Petroleum hydrocarbons persist in salt marsh sediments in Winsor Cove (Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts) impacted from the 1974 spill of No. 2 fuel oil by the barge Bouchard 65. Intertidal sediment cores were collected from 2001 to 2005 and analyzed for total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPHs). TPHs content was greatest (as high as 8.7 mg g(-1) dry weight) in the surface sediments and decreased with distance landward. Select samples were analyzed for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) with values as high as 16.7 microg g(-1) for total naphthalenes and phenanthrenes/anthracenes. These remaining PAHs are mainly C(4)-naphthalenes and C(1)-, C(2)-, and C(3)-phenanthrenes/anthracenes revealing preferential loss of almost all of the naphthalenes and the parent compound phenanthrene. Inspection of the data indicates that biodegradation, water-washing and evaporation were major removal processes for many of the petroleum hydrocarbons in the marsh sediments. In addition, historical data and photographs combined with their recent counterparts indicate that erosion has physically removed these contaminants from this site.