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A year, a month, and three days before I was born, Joseph Mitchell published the essay below in the New Yorker.  I don’t know when the first dredge appeared in the sixth boro, but

in Mitchell’s day, as now, dredging fleets and their crews sculpted the invisible portions of New York harbor.  The above hard-to-read text made its way into the beginning of  the essay “The Bottom of the Harbor” in Mitchell’s Up in the Old Hotel.  For fotos of the crew of dredge Florida at their various duties, check through several dozen new ones on my Flickr stream to the left.

And it does take a fleet of specialized craft, like Apache, which

drills holes into “hard rock,”  inserts explosive charges, and blows bedrock into fragments.  Here’s a KVK blast video from USACE.  This is how the process looks at a site in Finland.  For images and description of blasting in Hell Gate in the 19th century, click here.

The next three fotos come thanks to Allen Baker.  Loose clay mix slop

looks like this dropping into scows and smelling, by Allen’s description, as

“aroma there’s not enough vocabulary for.”

Drier particles, chewed up by the cutter head, might

get scooped by an excavator like 996 on

dredge New York.    Here is video of a very scary day a few years back aboard New York.

Other areas of the harbor bottom get sculpted by vessels like Padre Island and (below) Terrapin Island.

Padre Island and Terrapin Island suction stuff up with heads like these.

And performing liaison duties among all the ships and machines in the fleet are crew boats like Brazos River

here driven from the exterior control station by Capt. Bill Miller.

Thanks to Bowsprite for taking the fotos above and below.  And thanks to Bill Miller for his hospitality.

And finally . . . back to the teeth:  cost is between $150 and $180 each, depending on size and manufacturer.  And ,

this beaut weighs about 35 pounds.

Also, in case you  wondered about the date of Mitchell’s essay in the New Yorker:  January 6, 1951.

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October 2010