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Today the sixth boro and environs face Henri, whose story is yet to be told.  August 26, 2011 . . . I was at the Staten Island Ferry terminal, and these Hurricane Irene signs were up.  When Irene’s story was told, it had done unusual damage upstate far from salt water;  here’s more.  Some repairs took until 2016 to complete.  From here I took the ferry to Whitehall in Manhattan, and then over I walked to South Street Seaport, where I wanted to see storm preparations.  See the story at the end of this post.  

In late August 2011, I was documenting a slow decomposition, getting footage of what became a documentary film called Graves of Arthur Kill. Gary Kane was the producer;  I was the director, or something.  If you’ve not yet seen the documentary, you can order it by clicking on the disintegrating wooden tugboat image along the left aside of this blog page.  Some of the vessels in this post are discussed by multiple sources in the documentary.  Keep in mind that these photos and the footage in the doc recorded these scenes a decade ago, almost to the day.  Hurricanes, freezing and thawing, and just plain daily oxidation have ravaged these already decrepit vessels for another 10 years, so if you were to go to these exact locations, not an easy feat, you’d see a devolution.

I’m not going to re-identify all these boats–already done elsewhere and in the doc–except to say we saw a variety of boats like this tanker above and the WW2 submarine chaser alongside it.

Other WW2 vessels repurposed for post-war civilian purposes are there.  More were there but had been scrapped prior to 2011.

See the rust sprouting out from behind WW2 haze gray.

In the past decade, the steam stack on this coastal ferry has collapsed, and the top deck of the ferry to the right has squatted into the ooze below.

Some steel-hulled steam tugboats we never managed to identify much more than maybe attributing a name;  they’d been here so long that no one remained alive who worked on them or wanted to talk about them.

We used a rowboat and had permission to film there, but the amount of decomposing metal and wood in the water made it nearly impossible to safely move through here. We never got out of the boat to climb onto any of these wrecks.  That would be if not Russian roulette then possibly some other form of tempting fate.

Most emblematic of the boats there might be this boat, USS ATR-89, with its struggling, try-to-get-back-afloat stance.  She was built in Manitowoc, WI, a town I’ve since frequently visited.

Wooden hulls, wooden superstructure . . .  I’m surprised they’ve lasted as long as they have.

Since taking this photo in August 2011, I’ve learned a lot about this boat and its four sisters, one of whom is now called Day Peckinpaugh

I’ve spent a lot of hours this month pulling together info on Day Peckinpaugh, launched as Interwaterways Line 101;  the sister vessel above and below was launched in July 1921 in Duluth as Interwaterways Line 105. The ghost writing in the photo below says Michigan, the name she carried during the years she ran bulk caustic soda between the Michigan Alkali plant in Wyandotte MI and Jersey City NJ via the Erie Canal.  Anyone local have photos of this vessel in the sixth boro or the Hudson River?  I have a photo of her taken in 1947 transiting a lock in the NYS Canal system, but I’ll hold off on posting that for a few weeks when the stories come out. What you’re looking at above and below is the remnants of a vessel currently one century and one month old. 

The Interwaterways Line boats were designed by Capt. Alexander McDougall, who also designed the whalebacks of the Great Lakes, like Meteor. Here‘s a whole blog devoted to McDougall’s whalebacks.

This ferry used to run between Newburgh and Beacon;  on this day in August 2011, we just rowed our boat onto the auto deck.

At the beginning of this post I mentioned Hurricane Irene and going over to South Street Seaport Museum.  Two of these vessels here have seen a lot of TLC$ in the past decade. That’s a good ending for now.  Helen, with the McAllister stack, is still afloat and waiting.

All photos in August 2011, WVD.

A final sentiment on Graves of Arthur Kill . . . Gary Kane and I set out to document what was actually in this much-discussed boneyard;  we wanted to name and show what existed, acknowledge what had existed but was already gone, and dispel some of the legends of this place.  We were both very proud of the work and happy with this review in  Wired magazine.  If you still want to write a review, get in touch.  It would be like writing a series review of Gilligan’s Island, but still a worthy exercise.

 

Any ideas?  Note the pulley and cable fitted into the metal knees supporting columns, once vertical but now leaning to almost “two o’clock.”

Here’s a decaying and woebegone version of what Lehigh Valley 79 preserves.  This may be younger edition, even.  And note the metallic vessel over in the lower left corner of the foto;  it’s foto 4 in this post.

Is this an elements-diminished Orange, built 1914 in Newburgh at T. S. Marvel Shipbuilding?

Read the text between the two intact portholes?  Here’s what John wrote on Opacity five years ago:  ” Truly a sad and melancholy scene, one that truly saddens the heart of any enthusiast of classic harbor ferries. That ferry was one of the old diesel-electrics operated by the City Of New York from 1959 to 1966. The wreck in this picture is either the remains of the SEAWELLS POINT or her sister, JAMESTOWN. These two ferries were built in 1926 by the American Brown Boveri Electric Corporation of Camden, NJ. During the 60s, these two boats operated between E. 134th St in the Bronx, and Rikers Island, until a bridge was built in 1966. The ferries last ran on October 31, 1966.”

Sewell’s Point was initially delivered as  Greenville Kane in November 1926;  later it went as Palisades before rechristening as  Sewell’s Point.  Anyone have fotos of her operating in conjunction with the 1964 World’s Fair?

I wonder  what passengers these decks have trod . . . and from and to what missions, tasks, assignations . . .   this makes me think of the Edna St Vincent Millay poem . . .  By the way, the top foto above shows the underside of the wheelhouse of Sewell’s Point, where cables moved between the wheel and the rudder.

And this . . . looking forward . . . quadrant submerged and sheltering a crab;  with H-bitt once worn shiny with line now gone,

an engine head long gone cold

a house top rearing back like a stallion dying from the hind legs forward . . .   and is that a collar between the boiler and the longago-toppled stack?

Alas, what once was Ned Moran . . .  and a half decade ago looked like this . . . or this even before.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

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Graves of Arthur Kill

Click on image below to order your copy of Graves of Arthur Kill, by Gary Kane and Will Van Dorp. 3Fish Productions.

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