Written by Jersey Shore Sierra Group
Published: 09 November 2014
Dan Lieb checks on the preservation of a carronade, a short, smooth-bore ship’s cannon, at the NJHDA exhibit in the InfoAge Museum, Wall Township.
Lincroft, NJ - Dan Lieb, President of the NJ Historical Divers’ Association (NJHDA), will discuss his organization’s archeological explorations of shipwrecks off the New Jersey coast at 6 pm Monday, Nov. 24, at Brookdale Community College (BCC), Lincroft. The meeting, open to the public, includes members of the BCC Environmental Club and other students and the Jersey Shore (Monmouth) Sierra Group.
One of the association’s projects is researching the wreck of the government steamship Robert J. Walker, which was struck June 21, 1860 by another ship off Atlantic City. When it quickly sank in 85 feet of water, 20 of its crew members died. The ship was part of the U.S. Coast Survey, the oldest scientific agency in the country — now a department of NOAA called the National Geodetic Survey. It collected Gulf Stream data, using rope and lead to measure depth and mark channels to guide ships into ports. The wreck, informally known to divers as the “$25 wreck,” was identified in 2013 as the Walker.
The “L”-shaped configuration of the New Jersey and Long Island coastlines, the narrow entrance to the Raritan and Hudson Rivers, and the strong on-shore winds of hurricanes and northeasters, made sailing a perilous undertaking even into the early 20th Century that the Jersey coast was once called the "Graveyard of the Atlantic." There are about 5,000 known shipwrecks off the Jersey coastline, but only about 500 have been documented.
In 1992, a group of scuba divers met informally to discuss the possibility of investigating New Jersey's many shipwrecks and began lecturing and exhibiting their shipwreck artifacts in 1994. The Divers’ Association was formalized in 1995 to preserve New Jersey's shipwreck and maritime history; to research and record the many unknown, lost and misnamed shipwrecks, as well as other potentially significant historic sites; and to document their findings and present them to the public.
The Association and its shipwreck artifacts are located at its Maritime Museum, part of the InfoAge Science Museum on the former Marconi/Camp Evans site in Wall Township. The Association follows accepted archeological standards and practices to map and photograph ship wrecks primarily off the Jersey coast.
Mr. Lieb also is the director of the Sunken Locomotives Project for the New Jersey Museum of Transportation, a nonprofit educational organization that took legal possession in 2004 of two 1850s railroad steam locomotives found in the Atlantic Ocean off Long Branch.
Mr. Lieb’s presentation, part of BCC’s “Science Monday” lectures, is hosted by Brookdale’s Environmental Club to encourage students to be involved in statewide and national debates on the importance of strong environmental protections. At the Lincroft meeting, a pizza and subs buffet begins at 6:00 p.m. and the presentation begins at 6:30 p.m.
To get to Brookdale’s Lincroft campus, take Parkway Exit 109 to Route 520 West (Newman Springs Road, which becomes E. Main Street at the Lincroft campus). Take the traffic circle into the campus and follow the signs to the Warner Student Life Center (SLC) and parking lot 7, where the meeting will be in the SLC Twin Lights Rooms 1 and 2. Use parking lot 7. As you walk eastward towards the building complex, Warner will be on your left. If lot 7 is full, use parking lots 5 or 6. A campus map is at http://www.brookdalecc.edu/PDFFiles/MAPS/MAP_04_08.pdf