Significant archaeological find: Two pre-Civil War trains off NJ coast

Fascinating story about the discovery of two pre-Civil War trains five miles off the coast of New Jersey. How did they get there and why is there no record of their design and loss?

Underwater discovery offers glimpse of 1850s trains – Philly.com.

The emerald-colored waters off Long Branch, N.J., were “gloomy and spooky” as Dan Lieb swam toward the two hulking silhouettes, sitting upright and side by side about 90 feet down.

The objects were heavily encrusted with marine life, but Lieb recognized the unmistakable lines, the wheels and boilers of identical locomotives, 160 years after they fell or were cast overboard.

“It looked like they were steaming across the bottom in a race,” said Lieb, 56, of Neptune, Monmouth County. “You could imagine them on tracks at a station with steam coming out of the valves, and people and luggage on the platform.”

The finds were discovered by Paul Hepler, the captain of a charter boat who was mapping the ocean floor in this area in 1985 with a magnetometer.

The best guess for how they got that is that they fell off a boat or were discarded out of necessity from a ship.

The locomotives “are of a type that didn’t get saved for posterity,” said Nick Zmijewski, collection manager for archives at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg. “They represent a locomotive whose glory days were fading when they were built” in the 1850s.

“This was the last gasp of that design before four driving wheels and four guide wheels became the standard,” he said. “It’s a significant archaeological find.”

For more pictures, see the link.

Photo: Donna Blaszak and New Jersey Museum of Transportation

Photo: Donna Blaszak and New Jersey Museum of Transportation

  6 comments for “Significant archaeological find: Two pre-Civil War trains off NJ coast

  1. RayG
    February 21, 2013 at 10:08 AM

    whoa, talk about your coastal erosion. And they say Global Warming is a myth…hah!

  2. spookyparadigm
    February 21, 2013 at 10:12 AM

    One wonders if they were insured.

  3. etboehm
    February 21, 2013 at 10:50 AM

    Didn’t Deep Sea Detectives handle this in Season 2 Episode 12 “Underwater Train Wreck”

  4. RDW
    February 21, 2013 at 1:00 PM

    Maybe they were on a ship heading for some place across the ocean and had to be discarded during a storm.

  5. February 21, 2013 at 6:51 PM

    All aboard for Anaheim, Azuza and R’lyeh!

  6. One Eyed Jack
    February 21, 2013 at 8:04 PM

    Don’t F with Neptune’s train set.

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