I first began researching shipwrecks 20 years ago. I lived on a beach north of Cape Ann, Massachusetts. One evening while walking along the low tide mark, I noticed wooden remains of a ship sticking out of the sand. These were like a blowtorch to my imagination. After some “digging” at the local historical society I discovered the story of this particular wreck: Jenny M. Carter, three-masted schooner, 1894, all six crew died though not all bodies were recovered, and hints of a scandal in that possibly a seventh person–the captain’s mistress–had been aboard as well. Sad truly but with a little spice. At least half of the crew were newly arrived immigrants from Scandanavia, the cheap labor of the epoch. Not at all spicy was the ill-fated schooner’s cargo: granite bound from downeast Maine to Philadelphia. Rock. This was a 19th century dumptruck that had set out to sea without a thorough weather forecast, as none were available.

Flash forward to 2006. Here’s Alice, Alice Oldendorff. Alice was the topic of the first post I wrote in this blog, less than two weeks ago. It was an arbitrary place to start. Writing the post, I learned some interesting facts.

Alice hauls granite, crushed granite. Aggregates is the term now, gravel for concrete. It doesn’t come from Maine but from a quarry just a little farther downeast and just across the St. Croix River, which separates Maine from New Brunswick.


As I write today, Alice is offloading in Brooklyn at the old Navy Yard. What’s fascinating, though, is Alice‘s itinerary.

Saturday after Thanksgiving: loading along the St. Croix River

Wednesday: offloading in Philadelphia

Thursday: offloading in Staten Island ( split-delivery)

following Sunday: loading along the St. Croix River

Wednesday (yesterday): offloading in Brooklyn

Alice never sleeps. She doesn’t really wander either as she shuttles hither and yon bearing precious aggregates. Look at the next construction site you see and think of Alice.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.