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?
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.