About

Fastland is the high ground: the uplands adjacent to swamplands and marshes. Its use in American English must have arisen among the European settlers of the area, since it is really a Dutch word. South Jersey colonists had need to distinguish wet from dry because to them, the landscape must have appeared to be (and was) more swamp than land. We take the dry ground beneath our feet for granted now when we plan a trip from here to there, even when the destination is a barrier island. In earlier times the swamps and tidal wetlands of coastal landscapes were formidable barriers to movement and the fastland was a precious commodity where farms and settlements could be placed in close proximity to waterways. The fastland is no less precious now in this age of sea level rise when much of it may be not-so-fast after all.