Salty Brine State Beach (1954)
Galilee State Beach (now Salty Brine State Beach), was turned over to the state Division of Parks and Recreation by the Division of Harbors and Rivers in 1954. Harbors and Rivers had been responsible for developing the breachway at Galilee in the Town of Narragansett as a harbor area for commercial and recreational fishermen. A number of seafood processing plants dotted the entrance into one of Rhode Island’s great salt ponds, Point Judith Pond. The port area is also the state’s major terminal for the Block Island Ferry. Tucked alongside some of the state’s most famous seafood restaurants and within walking distance of numerous clusters of seasonal shoreline housing is the state beach.
In 1990 it was decided to rename Galilee State Beach as Salty Brine State Beach after a prominent radio personality long associated with Rhode Island’s nautical and seaside traditions. Walter Leslie Brian (1918-2004) was a morning radio host from 1943 to 1993. He was also the host of a children’s television show, known as ‘Salty’s Shack.’
His rich baritone voice flavored many television and radio commercials in his more than half a century in broadcasting. It was not just familiarity and longevity, however, which endeared this man to the public. He was a life-long campaigner for causes related to the handicapped and special needs citizens. His children’s programs were in the vein of ‘Mr. Rogers.’ He was the anchorman for the local Muscular Dystrophy Telethon from its start and a board member of Save the Bay and the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame, as well as one of its inductees. Over his lifetime he received many awards and recognitions. Perhaps none was more appropriate than his association with a beach named in his honor which featured green energy components and a completely barrier free, universal accessibility design. The new energy-efficient bath house and wind turbine installation was dedicated to his memory, May 24th 2010.
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