A 44-foot long, 12-foot wide coal boat dating back to the 19th century was discovered under a New Jersey shore bungalow early this week. A construction crew raising the home made the discovery on Wednesday when they put the building on pilings. It was a pretty neat find, until it was summarily tossed in the trash.
According to the AP, "Rumors of the vessel's existence had circulated for years. [The home's tenant Eileen] Scanlon got a peek of what looked like a rudder through the home's crawlspace shortly after buying it in 2010, but she didn't anticipate the size and scope of the boat. It's built from 3-inch-thick wooden plants and is held together with 18-inch iron nails."
She stopped the work on the home—which is part of the Sandy recovery— and got in touch with Russell Card of the Historical Society of Highlands, who told the AP, "It was beyond amazing. I've heard about it before and the first time I ever saw it was yesterday. I never realized it was so big. I was amazed at the craftsmanship of it."
Card said the property had been a dock and, the AP reports, "people used to roll boats on wheels to get to and from the water, said Card, who believes someone left the boat and built the home around it."
A neighbor told WCBS 2 that her late husband would talk about a boat being buried under the house, only to have his children say, "You’re crazy dad, you’re crazy."
The boat probably transported coal, while some think it could have also carried seafood. Scanlon offered, "Highlands was infamous for being a spot for the rum running."
The boat was destroyed; Card had referenced that Sandy-related deadlines were involved and he wrote on his Facebook page, "Yesterday, sadly the boat was razed and has become part of our past. The past few years our community has lost two historic things the Hartshorne fireplace that Cooper wrote about in Waterwitch and now the 19 century boat. The loss of any of our cultural heritage deeply affects our identity."
The boat's bow will be placed in Scanlon's garden, so at least there's that.