Tuesday, March 15, 2016


15 March 2016: In the previous post we mentioned that there would be a follow on to the piece on the New York area ship graveyard. Here it is, from writer Caitlin Knightly, a British lady residing in Australia, who contributed this piece to the Vintage News.

You will, perhaps, recall from the previous post, that this "graveyard" sits in the Arthur Kill, between Staten Island NY and the coast of New Jersey. The ships have been left to rot there, basically untouched, since the early 1900's, and the numbers seem to be growing. The collection includes ferry boats, and tugs mostly, but the assortment is not by any means limited to those vessels.
Here now, the rest of the story from Ms. Knightly:

Operational since the 1930s, Witte’s Marine Equipment company in Rossville served to dredge, salvage, and resell materials from the wrecked and disused vessels of the New York and New Jersey waterways.  Eccentric owner John J. Witte refused to dismantle the majority of the ships that came to rest in the yard, amassing a prodigious collection of over 400 historic watercraft.

As the ships slowly decomposed and the area gained a reputation as a mecca for artists and photographers, Witte gained his own reputation as a ferocious defender of his property, known for scaring off unsolicited visitors personally until he passed away in 1980.  

The yard is now controlled by the Donjon Marine Company, which seems to be taking a more proactive approach to actually salvaging materials from the wrecks and keeping the curious out, erecting 12-foot metal walls around the perimeter of the yard with signs prohibiting any and all photography.

Apparently the prohibition on photography is not stringently enforced!

An amazing and sad story. And heaven only knows what's in the mess leaching into our waterways - even if the Arthur Kill is likely the dirtiest stretch of water on the eastern seaboard of the United States!

Until next time,

                                              Fair Winds,
                                             Old Salt


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