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Pre Civil War Steamers found off coast
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   Author  Topic: Pre Civil War Steamers found off coast  (Read 1646 times)
big3fan
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Pre Civil War Steamers found off coast
 
« on: Sep 19th, 2004, 9:10am »
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I saw this in today's local paper, unbelievable.
 
By John Shiffman
 
Inquirer Staff Writer
 
 
Two rare, pre-Civil War steam locomotives, almost completely intact, have been discovered sitting upright, side-by-side, at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, several miles off the central New Jersey coast.
 
The submerged engines were discovered in 1985 by a charter-boat captain. But the significance of the find was not realized until two years ago, and not made public until Friday, when a federal judge ordered the relics protected.
 
In the next few days, a surrogate U.S. marshal will dive 90 feet to the ocean floor a few miles east of Asbury Park, to attach a laminated notice to one of the locomotives. The notice includes a marshals' warning that tampering or poaching is now illegal.
 
Two organized groups of amateur railroad and diving enthusiasts obtained the court order. They hope to retrieve and restore the distinctive and decorative steam engines, which are encrusted with a century and a half of barnacles and other sea life.
 
"It's a real archeological find - there are only a handful from that era that still exist," said David Dunn, director of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, which is not involved. The six-wheeled engines are among the earliest American workhorse locomotives, designed during "an era when these machines were considered the space shuttles of the mid-19th century."
 
Jim Wilke, a railroad historian who lives in Los Angeles, said the find is unusual because "these machines are exactly as they were when they went down in the early 1850s." Most similar engines that survived to become museum relics, he said, were refitted again and again over decades, and represent hybrids with modernized parts.
 
"These engines are extremely rare," he said.
 
The Smithsonian Institution, for example, owns a similar one, the Pioneer. A somewhat smaller, slightly younger, eight-wheeled steam engine, the People's Railway No. 3, is on display at the Franklin Institute.
 
John H. White, a former railroad curator for the Smithsonian, described the discovery of the two steam engines near New Jersey as "unusual, an oddity."
 
"They don't tell anything we don't already know," White said. "It's just interesting that they survived all this time. We don't have much from the 1850s. These are new pieces that were unknown."
 
To recover the steam engines from the Atlantic, the leaders of the diving and train enthusiast groups acknowledge they will need professional help.
 
"This is, really, out of our realm," said Victor Crisanto, chair of the New Jersey Museum of Transportation, which won the legal protection for the engines. The private museum has operated the Pine Creek Railroad, a railroad preservation organization at Allaire State Park, since 1952.
 
The group took the first legal step on Friday, when it appeared before U.S. District Judge Joseph Irenas to ask for custody of the abandoned steam locomotives. They presented him with several pieces of physical evidence removed from the engines, including a foot-long bell and a 38-inch piece of decorative trim that hung above a wheel.
 
"They could probably raise this thing without a court order because they are outside of New Jersey waters, but the real reason to do it is to protect their rights and keep interlopers away," said Peter E. Hess, a Wilmington lawyer who represented the group.
 
The discovery is bound to become more publicized this month, Hess said, and will be featured on a History Channel documentary tomorrow at 9 p.m.. "Everyone and their brother will want to go and try to grab a piece of brass off the trains," Hess said.
 
Crisanto and historians said they have little information about the engines' history - the precise year they were built, for example, or how they landed at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.
 
But by analyzing certain clues - the wagon-top boiler and the valve controls, for example - historians believe the steam locomotives were manufactured in New England, probably Boston, between 1851 and 1854.
 
Beyond that, they say, little is certain, because railroad records were poor. Some historians suspect the engines slipped off a freighter headed south during a storm. But that is just a guess.
 
Apparently, the engines sat undisturbed several miles from Asbury Park for more than a century, until 1985, when a charter-boat captain, Paul Hepler, found them while checking netting.
 
"The captain told me about them years ago," said Dan Lieb of Neptune, the president of the New Jersey Historical Divers Association. "We were out on his boat, looking for lobsters, exploring shipwrecks. And when he told me about the locomotives, I thought, 'I don't want to look at trains,' I want to see shipwrecks."
 
Years later, Lieb said, he finally decided to see the trains for himself. He and fellow divers soon became infatuated. They took pictures and made drawings. Then he began making inquiries via the Internet.
 
At first, some speculated that the trains were sunk by the Germans during World War II, citing well-known attacks in the area at the time.
 
Eventually, the divers' information and details reached White, the former Smithsonian curator.
 
"They finally sent me a videotape - and I said, 'Aha! I think I know what these are,' " White said. "The cylinders were on an angle, a very antique feature. The double valves, one on top of each other, another antique feature."
 
They were tank engines, circa 1850.
 
Lieb, who had been reading White's book, American Locomotives: An Engineering History, 1830-1880, took the news to Crisanto and his fellow train enthusiasts. "They came to one of our board meetings and brought drawings, pictures, a few artifacts," said Crisanto, the all-volunteer museum's chairman. "And... our jaws kind of hit the ground."
 


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BC_and_A_railway

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Re: Pre Civil War Steamers found off coast
 
« Reply #1 on: Sep 19th, 2004, 9:52am »
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WOW  
 
please tell us any more news on this thats awesome


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CHESSIEMIKE
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Re: Pre Civil War Steamers found off coast
 
« Reply #2 on: Sep 19th, 2004, 6:06pm »
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on Sep 19th, 2004, 9:52am, BC_and_A_railway wrote:       (Click here for original message)
WOW  
 
please tell us any more news on this thats awesome
This was posted in the Railroad Media Forum:
 
 
   Trains on the History Channel:  
 
Monday, September 20, 2004  
____________________________________________________  
 
9-10pm -- Deep Sea Detectives - Underwater Train Wreck  
When our investigators find two ghostly locomotives,  
upright and intact, just a few miles off the New  
Jersey coast, they must figure out how these massive  
land vehicles ended up 90 feet below the Atlantic.  
With no shipwreck nearby, our detectives launch an  
investigation into how these locomotives wound up in  
deep water seven miles from land. Were they jettisoned  
to save a ship? Did they slide off during a storm? And  
as our investigators discover, the trains are  
incredibly old--and incredibly rare.
 
CHESSIEMIKE


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NKP759fan
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Re: Pre Civil War Steamers found off coast
 
« Reply #3 on: Mar 11th, 2005, 8:27pm »
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Yes I heard about this. I heard that they are thinking of raising them from the ocean floor. I can't wait to hear more news.

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Nickel Plate Road "Berkshire" #759
Built: August 1944
Builder: Lima Locomotives Works
Driver diameter: 69 inches
Boiler Pressure: 245
Coal: 22 tons
Water: 22,000 gallons
Retired: 1958
Used on the famous High Iron Excursions
http://www.cr.nps.gov/history/online_books/steamtown/shs2o.htm
MachinistBoy46
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Re: Pre Civil War Steamers found off coast
 
« Reply #4 on: May 6th, 2005, 8:08am »
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Hi all-
 
   I am a machinist/welder at NJMT (Pine Creek Railroad)  We indeed did arrest the site, which means we have legal right to the two locomotives. They are Planet class 2-2-2 locomotives, built between 1850-1855 we suspect. Very interseting indeed. Visit our website, www.njmt.org for some more info, as well as check out the 1914 Porter 2-6-0 we`re restoring.   Take care guys -Chris


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NKP759fan
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Re: Pre Civil War Steamers found off coast
 
« Reply #5 on: May 6th, 2005, 12:42pm »
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Interesting. Any idea how they ended up there? Keep us updated

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Nickel Plate Road "Berkshire" #759
Built: August 1944
Builder: Lima Locomotives Works
Driver diameter: 69 inches
Boiler Pressure: 245
Coal: 22 tons
Water: 22,000 gallons
Retired: 1958
Used on the famous High Iron Excursions
http://www.cr.nps.gov/history/online_books/steamtown/shs2o.htm
Pennsy
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Re: Pre Civil War Steamers found off coast
 
« Reply #6 on: May 6th, 2005, 12:47pm »
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Hi Chris,
 
Looks like those two engines cannot have fallen into better hands. Can't wait to see photos of such unusual wheel arrangements. Generally such oddball wheel arrangements had beginnings in England. Are these engines American made Haven't heard of the "Planet" designation for a 2-2-2 engine. Rare indeed.  
 
Good luck and please keep us informed of your progress. Even underwater photos would keep us happy in the short term.


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MachinistBoy46
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Re: Pre Civil War Steamers found off coast
 
« Reply #7 on: May 6th, 2005, 10:56pm »
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Hi guys-
 
     Pennsy, we do have the bottom portion of the whistle from one of the locomotives, and it reads "H.N. Hooper #3, Boston"    We believe this may be where the loco was manufactured, although nothing is certain.  Us, and the NJHDA (New Jersey Historical Divers Association) have looked extensively into records of shipwrecks and such and no records can be found that match this incident.  Our best guess would be that they were headed out of Boston, and fell off a ship in a storm on the way  (keep an eye out on the history channel for "Deep Sea Detectives "Underwater trainwreck")  This is the show that aired on it, and it plays on average once a week, just a various time slots.   Our first step into this project is documenting as much as we possibly can, and preserving whats there.    Hopefully, we will find a source of money one day to raise them up and preserve them.  Unfortunatley, as you can imagine, this would cost major $$$. But we feel proud to have taken these steps to protect them, as although concealed for a century and a half, they are a part of our history, and a unique and mysterious one at that. If anyone has anymore questions feel free to ask and I`ll do what I can to answer them.    For pics of them, at  www.njmt.org under "museum" there are 2 articles about the engines and a few pictures. Keep in mind too I could write a 10 page post about these engines and what we`ve found so far......if you watch the show you can get the full story.     Take care everyone     -Chris L.


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Two23
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Re: Pre Civil War Steamers found off coast
 
« Reply #8 on: May 7th, 2005, 11:37pm »
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This is a really cool story.  I hope to catch the show sometime--I've seen others.
 
 
Kent in SD


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Kent in SD
ARA18
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Re: Pre Civil War Steamers found off coast
 
« Reply #9 on: Jun 12th, 2006, 2:56pm »
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HOLY CRAP!

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chessie8212
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Re: Pre Civil War Steamers found off coast
 
« Reply #10 on: Jun 15th, 2006, 12:12pm »
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I've seen lots of shows on things found in the ocean over the years, as well as getting to experience the privilege of watching a crew work on bringing up an old ship out near the Outer Banks of North Carolina one time.
 
But it always seemed that bringing these items out of the water led to advanced decomposition and in some cases, a complete loss of the item.
 
Would these be any different?  If not, what are the chances that the locomotives will be lost after being brought out of the water?
 
I'd love to see these steamers saved, I just hope there is a way to do it!


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ARA18
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Re: Pre Civil War Steamers found off coast
 
« Reply #11 on: Aug 14th, 2006, 12:26pm »
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I beileive they are called Plantee, a Planet was a 2-2-0.

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anthonyd_SRR
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Re: Pre Civil War Steamers found off coast
 
« Reply #12 on: Aug 15th, 2006, 7:50am »
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Really cool story It would be awsome if someday these engines ran again
~AnthonyD~


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Pennsy
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Re: Pre Civil War Steamers found off coast
 
« Reply #13 on: Aug 15th, 2006, 10:51am »
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Hi All,
 
Don't know about running them again, but esthetic restoration for display in a museum definitely would be worth while. I am still very curious about the Plantee wheel arrangement. That has to be British in its origin.


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Andy_S
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Re: Pre Civil War Steamers found off coast
 
« Reply #14 on: Aug 15th, 2006, 9:25pm »
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A major miracle indeed, if these can ever be cosmetically restored, much less made operable.  Think NKP759.

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MachinistBoy46
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Re: Pre Civil War Steamers found off coast
 
« Reply #15 on: Sep 1st, 2006, 7:37pm »
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Hi all-
 
      Sorry for taking so long responding.  Chessie8212- Yeah, if raised, they would probably have to sit in a giant desalination tank for an extended period of time. Otherwise, once the salt from the water hits the air if, you basically have an instant rusto-matic machine. And, like you said, this would deteriorate whats left very rapidly. If they are ever raised, cosmetic restoration would be the only option (and even this would be one helluva task) However, whats left of the originals can be used to create patterns for building operational replicas, which would be pretty cool in itself.    Take care everyone   -Chris


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DRAWHEAD
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Re: Pre Civil War Steamers found off coast
 
« Reply #16 on: Sep 2nd, 2006, 9:19pm »
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That show about the locomotives on the History Channel was pretty interesting as i watched it sometime last year.While doing some research and reading over some newspaper microfilm at the Norwalk,Ohio library a year or two ago i came across a small article wich i posted on the Railroad.net site.It was a similar situation of 2 locos being lost overboard but in Lake Erie from a Buffalo newspaper.It had the following information.
 
The brig Concord,wich left this port yesterday with two locomotives for the Rock Island Railroad,when off Long Point lost both overboard and returned to port this morning.  Dec. 8, 1852
 
 
Although these locos may not be near as a significant odd wheel arrangement as the two in the Atalantic Ocean and are most likely 4-4-0's they would still be pretty darn old and maybe in better condition being in freshwater instead of saltwater? Has anybody ever heard about these two in Lake Erie or bothered to research them further?


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DRAWHEAD
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Re: Pre Civil War Steamers found off coast
 
« Reply #17 on: Sep 2nd, 2006, 9:26pm »
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   Please exuse my misspelling at the bottom of my last post as i went to type the following "freshwater instead of saltwater!" i think a jammed up a few keys,not sure how salthingyer came about! Sorry!

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ETSRRCo
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Re: Pre Civil War Steamers found off coast
 
« Reply #18 on: Sep 2nd, 2006, 10:22pm »
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The locomotives are in the 1840-1845 range. We know this be certain features of the locomotive (such as a riding cut off valve). Sorry Chris you were off by 10 years. We have no idea how they got there. There is no evidence of a shipwreck in the area and no newspapers from that era have not turned up a ship losing deck cargo or carrying locomotives. We don't know where they came from or where they were headed. All we know is that these are the largest examples of the 2-2-2 ever seen or known to have built.

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anthonyd_SRR
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Re: Pre Civil War Steamers found off coast
 
« Reply #19 on: Oct 2nd, 2006, 10:05am »
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Is it possible a Railroad purposly put them in the sea because on the Long Island Railroad puts old cars into the water becuase itgrows allge and makes food for the fish  
~AnthonyD~


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