We know that vessels of wood, fiberglass, steel, and even papyrus can float. But concrete? Seems implausible, but it happened.
vintage postcard, concrete ship “Atlantus,” Cape May Point, NJ, built 1918, sank 1926
The Concrete Ship – “S. S. Atlantus”
Cape May Point, New Jersey
by Harlan B. Radford, Jr.
The remains of the concrete ship now situated at the foot of Sunset Boulevard in Cape May, NJ was one of an experimental lot of 12 freighter ships built by the United States Government during World War I. The rather unlikely concrete construction technique was brought on by the critical wartime shortage of steel.
Launched in 1918, not only did the “Atlantus” float, she was used as a coal steamer until being decommissioned since the concrete vessel proved a disappointment by her sheer weight and slow speed.
Later, promoters purchased the “Atlantus” for use as a ferry landing for a proposed route from Cape May Point to Lewes, Delaware. But one night a nor’easter broke it from its mooring and beached it before proper placement could occur.
Attempts were made to raise the ship and re-position it but to no avail. Consequently, the proposed ferry project did not materialize. Over many years, millions of visitors have traveled to see her sink deeper and deeper into the sand. Eventually, the “Atlantus” will disappear entirely and be just a distant memory.
A symptom of the current COVID-19 situation seems to be an onset of nostalgia by many parties and we are not immune to its effects. Based on our website comments and feedback, neither are our readers. For now, whether it’s looking through old photos, reminiscing about simpler times, or returning to one of our favorite interests, nostalgia mostly seems to be offering people a way to cope during the pandemic.
Here are some examples of the reminiscence therapy that website visitors found here.
I attended Camp Lenape 1952-54. The post cards pictured in the article brought back many memories. While the article mentions sleeping in wall tents I remember sleeping in a lean to which had two sides, a back and a slanted roof. The front was open and there was a floor. Like some of the others who have commented I also went through the speechless weekend being initiated into the Order of the Arrow. Had to sleep “under the stars” in my sleeping bag. Woke up in a huge puddle of water as it rained most of the night. Many of my memories of Camp Lenape have faded but some are vivid. We had the luck to grow up during the best of times.
Should something here rekindle a memory of your “best of times’ please leave a comment.
We can thank Mary, AKA Meg, (Espinosa) Lario‘s brother Gene for putting rivertonhistory.com on her radar. She wrote us a fan letter and included a few questions. We’ll help with her question about 616 Thomas. Maybe a reader can supply more information about Rogers News Agency and its former owners.
Hello, good afternoon to all the team there. My name is Mary. I grew up in Palmyra and my grandparents lived in Riverton. May I ask several questions? I worked at Rogers news agency in high school for several years. The owners Joseph and his wife were lovely people. My whole family knew Mr. Rogers from the store. Does any team member know where the family is now and how they are doing. The store was amazing, and had a little telephone booth in it. Mr. Rogers was a kind person to all who visited the store for their morning chat or newspaper and candy pickup. He treated everyone like family. He was a great boss. We also wondered if there is any history on the house built at 616 Thomas Ave. My grandparents and all our family gathered there for many celebrations! I know it has been sold several times over the years. Thanks for considering my questions, all the best, Stay safe, and we love your website! Thanks also for the wonderful work you are doing! Sincerely, Mary Lario Ps my nickname was Meg. maiden name was Espinosa. I had 5 brothers Rich, Jim, Phil and Gene and my late brother Joe died at 31. My sister Eileen was 5 when she passed. We loved Riverton….beautiful town. It reminds me of Cape May in its elegance. My brother Gene sent me your information and history.
Someone younger today might well ask, “What’s a phone booth?” An interior shot of that store might clear it up and serve to further illustrate what people once experienced here.
Perhaps the pandemic has awakened in some of us a long-dormant interest in baking, photography, or genealogy.
Earlier in the summer, Joann Sanderson found the Research Your House page helpful when she was doing a deep dive into the history of her house, coincidentally also on Thomas Avenue.
Hi, The research your house information is fantastic. I already started researching online the book and page of deeds…
In June, two visitors (one local; one from Texas) who visited our Store page inquired into buying our Romance of Riverton DVD, but we had to wait until August, when we were allowed to finally get to our inventory in the Riverton Free Library’s basement to get them.
As a former owner of Duster 100, the boat hanging from the 3rd floor window. I have heard of this photo from Mr. Robert Lundstedt but never did see it until now. The boat was in our family from the late 60’s until my wife and I sold it in the mid 80 after doing some extensive rebuilding of the boat in the winter of 81-82. Thanks for the great posts of long-ago memories and the great picture.
This stressful time has robbed us of the opportunity to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Historical Society of Riverton with you.
For now, the Historical Society of Riverton has no immediate plans to hold meetings or offer presentations. Look for a Gaslight News newsletter in October in which we will lay out a plan for the fall and winter.
Until then, try looking through almost ten years of website posts, or browse five decades of back issues of the Gaslight News and reams of news from Riverton’s and Palmyra’s old hometown newspapers. We hope that the experience proves to be a diversion from the daily news. Please know that we welcome your comments, feedback, and submissions. Feel like writing about your experience? Send it to email@example.com or use the contact form below.
THE N. S. SAVANNAH AND ITS CONNECTION WITH CAMDEN, N.J.
Harlan Radford, Jr.
The N.S. Savannah was the world’s first nuclear-powered merchant ship. The prefix letter “N” designates “nuclear.” President Dwight Eisenhower suggested the idea in 1955 and Congress authorized it in 1956.
The New York Shipbuilding Corp. located at Camden, N.J. built this merchant ship for the Maritime Administration, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the Atomic Energy Commission.
The U.S. government provided funding to support a demonstration project that would serve as a showcase for the peaceful use of nuclear technology. The keel was laid and dedicated by Mrs. Pat Nixon on May 22, 1958. More than a year later on July 21, 1959, First Lady Mrs. Mamie Eisenhower ceremonially christened and launched the Savannah. Installation and testing of the nuclear reactor and undergoing a series of sea trials took another 2-1/2 years.
The all-important “maiden voyage” took place on August 20, 1962, and the Savannah did not enter regular service until 1964. During the spring and summer of 1964, the Savannah toured the U.S. Gulf and Eastern coast seaports and then commenced on a historic crossing of the Atlantic Ocean for the first time with visits to Bremerhaven, Hamburg, Rotterdam, Dublin and Southampton. This ship’s namesake, SS Savannah, was the first steam-powered ship to cross the Atlantic Ocean in 1819.
The specially prepared philatelic cover at right marks the date of the actual “launching” of the N/S Savannah on July 21, 1959. Postmarked in Camden, N.J., the postcard features a pictorial postmark which reads “N/S SAVANNAH / FIRST ATOMIC LINER / U.S. MERCHANT MARINE.”
Elements in the blue 3-cent U.S. postage stamp commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Oklahoma Statehood further tie into the theme of atomic energy. The central design of the stamp is a horizontal arrow superimposed on a solid outline map of the State of Oklahoma and piercing the orbital emblem, which has become the symbol for atomic energy. The arrow represents the frontier days of Oklahoma prior to Statehood in 1907 and the atomic symbol represents the new frontiers.
With an overall length of 595 feet, this ship was capable of a speed of 20.25 knots. As for payload, the Savannah was capable of carrying 60 passengers and 9,400 long tons of cargo. The Savannah was only in service for an eight-year period from 1964 to 1972 and was one of only four such nuclear-powered cargo ships ever built.
While officially deactivated in 1971 and after being moved around numerous ports, the ship finds itself presently dry-docked at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, yet to be officially decommissioned. History tells us that the SS Savannah was a commercial failure. Despite the innovative nuclear propulsion system of its successor, the N.S. Savannah shared a similar destiny. It proved to be short-lived and failed to prove its commercial feasibility.
The following five postal covers relate to N.S. Savannah milestones.
The first-class letter at left is marked “Mailed aboard The N.S. SAVANNAH” and bears a hand-applied pictorial cachet in black ink which also states “World’s First / Nuclear Powered / Merchant Ship. It bears a Galveston, Texas postmark dated MAR 26 PM 1964.
The officially prepared cachet imprints for the following two covers boast “First Trans-Atlantic Voyage.” The NS Savannah carried them onboard during its first Atlantic crossing the following June.
One envelope displays a General Post Office in New York City postmark and the other was actually postmarked and dispatched from the United Nations headquarters, also in New York City.
With 11 cents in stamps affixed to each cover and postmarked JUN 8 AM 1964, each received postal backstamps upon receipt at Bremerhaven, Germany, dated in European style “18.-6.64-11” or June 18, 1964 11AM.
Next is an example of a “paquebot” cover, which simply translated means “posted at sea.”
This piece, destined for a United States address, originated on the NS Savannah. On arrival of the ship in a port, a private messenger transmitted the mail to the nearest post office where it was deposited, canceled, and forwarded through the regular mailstream. Accordingly, this particular cover received two postal markings, one provided onboard the ship dated JUN 16, 1964, and the other marking placed by German postal authorities dated two days later on June 18, 1964 (18.-6.64 -11).
Why two same date postmarks for this next cover? One was applied on board the N.S. Savannah DEC 28, 1964, and another, stamped “Wilmington, N.C.” bears the same date. Presumably, the ship was in her North Carolina port on that date.
The extraordinary ship was in service for a mere ten years. It eventually ended up just across the Delaware River from where it was built in Camden, in a dry-dock at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, and finally was mothballed in Baltimore.
The previous several philatelic covers mark milestones in this innovative civilian maritime ship’s short span of existence and the following contemporary accounts in periodicals further expand the topic.
NS Savannah, Courier-Post, Jul 21, 1959, p17
NS Savannah, Courier-Post, Jul 21, 1959, p18
NS Savannah, Courier-Post, Jul 22, 1959, p1
NS Savannah, Courier-Post, Jul 22, 1959, p3
NS Savannah, Philadelphia Inquirer, Sep 12, 2019, pB2
NS Savannah, Asbury Park Press, Oct 12 2019, pA10
Two interesting and informative videos about the N.S. Savannah are currently available on YouTube and can be viewed by typing in the following titles:
#1 – “NS Savannah: Atoms for Peace (1962)” – Time 5:39
#2 – “NS Savannah in Drydock in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania – November 17, 2019” – Time 3:27
Attributed to Frank Furness, this grand 1880 high-Victorian mansion is on a big corner lot on a beautiful street, one block from the Delaware River.
The Historical Society of Riverton, including its officers and board, has no financial stake in this property. We bring this home to your attention because it is our mission to discover, restore, and preserve local objects and landmarks – and what a landmark this house was, and can be again!
In a town of distinctive architecture, the 1880 Alfred Earnshaw house at 106 Lippincott Avenue is a standout for the right person to restore it.
Agent Cecilia Still of Keller-Williams Realty – Moorestown (856) 316-1100 listed the property. See more property details and photos on realtor.com.
It really needs someone who will love it. The previous owners really did, investing major effort to reveal that amazingly-intact exterior from under awful siding.
Bob and Aggie Kennedy took their stewardship of this treasure seriously for the more than 20 years that they lived here. Both were longtime members and enthusiastic supporters of the Society and were fine citizens of Riverton, who rolled up their sleeves and supported many projects on behalf of the town.
Now their beautiful paint job is long overdue for a knowledgeable painter to bring it back. Even to a casual observer, it is clear that good stewardship means much more than just a paint job. As the realtor’s listing says, this historic home “needs TLC”. Note well that the listing on realtor.com reads “This is an AS-IS estate sale”.
But with the right contractors and vision, this will be a stunner.
Lots of intact detail
It looks to us like all of the original exterior detail is still there, except that the porch has been replaced.
On the inside, the first thing you might notice is that a miracle has occurred – somehow no fool ever painted over that amazing 1880 woodwork.
Victorian house lovers: how often does THAT happen? Did we mention “miracle”?
If you’ve ever had to restore a staircase like that, you know how unusual this is.
The Alfred Earnshaw House is generally believed to be the work of Philadelphia architect Frank Furness because of its strong resemblance to some of his most distinctive houses of the 1870s.
Its cross-gabled composition is found in Furness’s Emlen Physick House at Cape May, New Jersey, as is the prominent flaring chimney. Other details recall the Fairman Rogers House at Newport, Rhode Island, particularly the bold jerkinheads and overhanging third story.
These houses and others of the period show the special attention to the expression of the wood frame that Furness absorbed from his mentor, Richard Morris Hunt. But most characteristic of Furness’s 1870s work are the elongated knee-braces of the porch, which mix angular forms and vigorous curves, incision and notching, with a muscularity that none of his imitators achieved.
The couple who built this home came from influential families and their histories are well-documented. They owned the property from 1880 to 1892. According to the National Register nomination for the Riverton Historic District, the builder was Abraham Merritt of Beverly.
Alfred Earnshaw (1844-1896) was an iron broker in Philadelphia who founded a steamship line with his brother and served as its president until his death. He had recently come to the U.S. from Cambridge, England in 1872, first to New York, then set up his business in Philadelphia and commuted from Riverton.
The steamship line was called the Earn Line Steamship Co. and it prospered despite bad luck with its first ship, the S.S. Earnmoor. “Earn more” didn’t have a chance to earn much, as it sank in a gale in 1889 just two years after launching. Of a crew of 24, only seven survived. Sensational accounts of their three weeks adrift in a lifeboat in the Gulf Stream were widely reported at the time.
The company did prosper, though, and bought at least five steamers in the next few years.
A few years after the Earnshaws left Riverton for Philadelphia in 1892, Alfred died suddenly of a stroke at 51 years of age.
The real estate was purchased solely in the name of Alfred’s wife, Alice Rebecca Strange Earnshaw (1850-1945), which wasn’t unusual for people of means at that time. Alice was the daughter of Edwin B. Strange, a wealthy New York silk importer. He had commissioned the house in Dobbs Ferry in which Alice grew up, a Gothic Revival Hudson River castle named Ingleside, designed by architect Andrew Jackson Davis in 1854. That house still exists, now owned by St. Christopher’s School.
In a remarkable tenure, from 1910-1954, this was the town doctor’s house and office.
Dr. Charles Street Mills (1878-1954) and his wife Lillie Belle Leibert Mills (1879-1970) moved here in 1910 with their 12-year-old daughter Mildred. The home was called “Twin Pines” for many years, though whether they had named it or inherited the name isn’t known.
When their daughter turned 16 they held “a small dance” in her honor here – a small dance of 75 people! Is this the right house for that, or what?
In the 1920 Census, after Mildred married and moved away, the household was just Dr. and Mrs. Mills – plus three servants, all people of color. John E. Lodine was the gardener (age 22), Charles Reed was the butler (age 23), and Luzella Davenport was the cook (age 35).
A BRIEF HISTORY OF MOORESTOWN AIRPORT
Harlan Radford, Jr.
After nearly fifty years since its closure, information about Moorestown’s nearly forgotten airport is sketchy at best. We are indebted to Paul Freemanfor allowing the use of information and images from his informative website entitled “Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields” in developing the following story.
It all started in 1928 when some South Jersey aviation enthusiasts created an organization known as the Burlington County Aero Club. Just one year prior, Charles Lindbergh’s historic solo non-stop crossing of the Atlantic Ocean had captured the heart of the nation. Americans gained new confidence in air travel and suddenly, everybody wanted to fly.
Across the United States that enthusiasm fostered the creation and formation of something called flying clubs, or “aero clubs.” Such private member-run aero clubs were generally not-for-profit. The clubs offered their members affordable access to aircraft and often provided flight training opportunities along with many related services and facilities that enabled aviation enthusiasts to pursue flying as a hobby.
In February 1928, the newly formed Burlington County Aero Club acquired the use of a fifty-acre rectangular tract of farmland from the Lippincott family on Westfield Road. That year the club also purchased two new Waco Model 10 biplanes. This particular airplane was for general aviation and was excellent for training purposes. A popular 3-seater with open-air cockpit, the Waco 10 was a fixed-wing aircraft with two main wings stacked one above the other.
The Burlington County Aero Club constructed a large steel hangar on the north side of the newly secured land and employed a full-time chief pilot and an instructor.
During the weekend of October 13-14, 1928, the Burlington County Aero Club held a special “Air Meet and Races.” On this occasion, the Moorestown Airport was officially dedicated, and to commemorate this event, the club created (as described in The American Air Mail Society/American Air Mail Catalogue – Volume One, Sixth Edition, 1998) a special magenta-inked cachet and processed some 2,000 airmail envelopes postmarked on each of these dates at the Moorestown post office. Most notably, Moorestown’s Airport was the second oldest airport in all of New Jersey; Newark’s Aviation Field became the first in 1918.
According to local press reports, the Moorestown Airport in 1931 was actually being considered to be a base for the German Zeppelin transoceanic mail route. Lakehurst Naval Air Station, also located in South Jersey, finally won out and was selected for the prestigious but short-lived Zeppelin mail route. We all know that on May 7, 1937, the Hindenburg (LZ-129) would burst into flames during a landing at Lakehurst and thus end for that time the promise of a global airship passenger, freight and mail service.
The early years of this country’s Great Depression took its toll on the Moorestown Airport and one source states the airport went through a period of abandonment between 1932-35 and even the 1937 Airports Directory did not list it among active airfields.
The first and probably only “official” Air Mail flight in the history of Moorestown occurred on May 19, 1938, in conjunction with the Post Office Department’s celebration of National Air Mail Week conducted all across America between May 15-21. Proclaimed as a week-long event to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the inauguration of airmail service, Postmaster General James A. Farley and President Franklin Roosevelt promoted and implemented an opportunity to gain wider support and usage of the Post Office Department’s airmail service.
Postal officials encouraged many cities and towns to create their own means to conduct aviation-related activities during that time by promoting and actively participating in special events. For example, 24-hour airmail duty by volunteer pilots all across the nation allowed many communities like Moorestown to get one-day of airmail service.
Riverton Postmaster Mrs. Mervil E. Haas had a commemorative National Air Mail Week (NAMW) 1938 cover with a special cachet prepared for the occasion. Palmyra also sponsored a special cover for the event. On May 19, 1938, East Riverton’s Joseph W. Stow donated his services to pilot the aircraft that carried airmail from Palmyra, Riverton, and Cinnaminson post offices out of Moorestown Airport to Camden’s Central Airport. The cargo that day included the envelope at left bearing the new airmail stamp. Canceled at Riverton and backstamped at Camden, it is addressed to Dr. J.E. Brown at 416 Linden.
This novel idea proved immensely popular. Trumpeting the slogan, “Receive To-morrow’s mail today,” the Postmaster General even requested every American to send an airmail letter during that week. Shown at right is a photo of Postmaster General James Farley sitting with some of the hundreds of thousands of airmail letters mailed during National Air Mail Week.
By the end of the Depression at the close of the 1930s, the Moorestown airfield had become a pumpkin field. However, a 1940 aerial photo and later a 1942 USGS topographic map shows Moorestown Airport open and operational with three runways. Note in the illustration at left the configuration and the lengths of the three unpaved runways along with the airport hangars, buildings, and the obvious wind-cone, or sock, for determining wind direction.
During the years of World War II, eyewitness accounts recorded the presence of military aircraft occasionally using Moorestown Airport. Unfortunately not much else is known about the role of the airport at that critical time.
After the war, two enterprising individuals ran what they called the “GI Bill of Rights Flying School” at the airport and by the mid-1950s the airport saw much greater use. Facilities expanded to include an additional hangar; one hangar sported a painted checkerboard-roof design and the other roof proclaimed “MOORESTOWN.”
By 1958, the airstrip saw the installation of the first landing lights which
enabled planes to take-off and land at night.
As the decade of the 1960s arrived, the encroachment of residential development and the completion and opening in 1965 of the new Moorestown High School that bordered on airport property jeopardized the future of Moorestown Airport. The location of the high school necessitated the closing down of the northeast/southwest runway leaving just two active runways.
In addition, this photograph taken in 2016 shows the houses that have been built over the eastern portion of the former airport site while the western portion which is wetlands remained undeveloped. In the upper-middle portion of this image, note the two still-visible structures including the original circa 1928 hangar along Westfield Road.
The eventual closure of the Moorestown Airport would occur sometime between 1972-73 and with it came to the end of an interesting chapter in the history of the community of Moorestown, New Jersey.
A timeline of Moorestown Airport newspaper articles 1928-1972
We welcome your comments and especially hope that this article may serve to invite some first-hand recollections by former pilots, employees, passengers, or spectators who can add their voices to this online history of Moorestown Airport.
July 4th, 2020, the parade that never was. The coronavirus pandemic achieved what other epidemics, economic depressions and recessions, and two world wars could not. It caused Riverton’s treasured July Fourth Parade to be canceled. Here’s hoping we all get to enjoy the next one.
After folks received their July Fourth Program booklets this year, the question of the cover photo’s location arose.
Roger Prichard started it thus, and cc’d the whole HSR Board:
See this year’s program/ad book? I’m drawing a complete blank on the location for the photo… I just can’t place it for any location in Riverton.
Iris Gaughan, Pat Brunker, and others posited that it was taken on Main Street, but where? Our best resources, Nancy and Bill Hall were stumped, too.
Hypotheses involving angles of the sun and whether the parade was going toward or away from the river ensued.
Knowing that the Society had supplied the July 4th Committee with the photo, Roger asked to see the original photo scan to see if it might yield more clues.
That photo was one of several taken by Robert Knight on July 5, 1920, the year when Riverton thanked over 100 servicemen and one woman, Army nurse Amanda Faunce, by presenting each with a gold signet ring during a ceremony at the riverbank.
Several of the photos appeared previously in the May 2017 Gaslight News article, “A Grateful Community” by Mrs. Pat Solin. Our esteemed past Board Member, Elsie Waters, since passed, had donated the treasured family photos to the Society.
When Roger received the scan with the entire image, he had his eureka moment.
AHA!!! Thank you, John! That little bit of extra detail of the house with the cool porch in the background tells the tale! Look at those distinctive double columns and brackets for the 2nd floor porch.
Here’s what Mr. Google has. It’s 101 Main and the open space in the parade picture is where Ed Gilmore’s house and the modern one next to it were built (103 and 103a). That was always open space since the founding of the town.
Thus ends another episode of history nerds group emailng each other, desperate to better illuminate the pages of Riverton history, since we have had to cancel all Board and membership meetings for the foreseeable future.
Incidentally, Elsie Showell Waters was not quite two years of age on July 5, 1920. She is dearly missed.
Please join the conversation here and on our Facebook page until we can resume normal operations. -JMc, Editor
July 3, 2020: As the temperature soars this weekend and coronavirus restrictions ease, many folks are headed to the Jersey Shore. If you cannot visit for real, at least take a virtual vacation here and see hundreds of vintage postcard views of Long Beach Island.
One postcard in particular seems to have become a magnet for attracting comments from visitors who have vivid memories of the Baldwin Hotel.
Paul Hughes writes from Arlington VA:
My mom worked as a waitress in Summer at the Baldwin during WWII. She needed that money for college as she was raised by a single mom in Jersey City and they had to scrape together all their nickels to get her through. She eventually went on to earn her Medical degree from Cornell Univ in NYC. She was always an industrious gal! I found a picture of her in her work uniform and a picture of the Baldwin Hotel in her personal items. She passed away in 2018 at age 92.
I immediately replied and offered to post the photos, which he in turn sent. Thank you, Paul, for this very personal addition to this online archive.
If you have a comment, a photo or postcard, or any memorabilia that you wish to share on a topic found here on rivertonhistory.com please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the contact form below. – JMc, Editor
An avid postcard collector recently acquired this classic postcard on eBay. In it, a number of people find shelter from the summer sun under the boardwalk. A young man in knickers, the woman in a long checkered skirt and summer millinery, the fashionable man wearing white slacks and shoes, dark jacket, bowtie, and fedora, and a number of bathers are each captured as they posed over ninety years ago.
Postmarked APR 4, 1929 at Stone Harbor, NJ, and placed in the mailstream to a recipient at the Y.M.C.A. in Binghamton, N.Y., the penned message states, “My nose is all red and it isn’t from drinking either.” The postcard depicts the popular Stone Harbor Boardwalk before the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944 destroyed it. These chronologically arranged vintage views circa 1918-1944 document that long-gone Stone Harbor attraction.
The Boardwalk at Stone Harbor, New Jersey
by Harlan B. Radford, Jr.
The boardwalk at the seashore resort community known as Stone Harbor, NJ is a distant memory that few can now recall. The following picture postcards and photographs serve as proof of the one and a half-mile long boardwalk from 83rd Street to 106th Street that once existed there for 28 years.
The term boardwalk describes a walkway or promenade, often elevated, typically constructed of wooden planking, and is located along a beach. Atlantic City became the first seashore resort to construct a boardwalk back in 1870 to curb the amount of sand beachcombers tracked into the train and hotel lobbies. According to National Geographic, the State of New Jersey has 28 boardwalks and promenades – more than any other state.
Those of us who have personally experienced the charm of boardwalks at other locations, either today or yesteryear, are reminded of their immense popularity and the many attractions they offer. “Walking the boards” or leisurely strolling the boardwalk, often at the end of a day, provided countless opportunities for fun and relaxation including souvenir shopping, entertainment, arcades, miniature golf, saltwater taffy, and delicious fudge.
If the number one attraction of the Jersey Shore is the sandy beaches, then boardwalks may be the second most popular reason why people flock to seashore communities during the summer months. Stone Harbor built its boardwalk in 1916. But we all know that mother nature and the mighty forces of the ocean have on numerous occasions not been kind to boardwalks and oceanfront properties.
Stone Harbor boardwalk’s reckoning came on September 14, 1944, when a particularly devastating storm, which became known as the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944, struck the New Jersey coast. Stone Harbor lost its entire boardwalk to this monster storm. The boardwalks of Sea Isle City, Atlantic City, Ocean Grove, Asbury Park, and Long Branch all suffered similar fates.
Residents assessed the extent of damage and the replacement costs associated with rebuilding not only the Stone Harbor boardwalk but also a 500-foot fishing pier out into the ocean and a covered pavilion at 96th Street. They agreed that there was a greater value of having unobstructed ocean views and consequently decided not to have the boardwalk rebuilt. A few resorts like Atlantic City and Asbury Park would rebuild.
In all my years of collecting postcards, one thing I have never seen is any view that shows the damaged Stone Harbor boardwalk immediately after that storm. If you have one, please share it.
The following 38 vintage picture postcards featuring the Stone Harbor boardwalk are arranged in chronological order starting with views taken around 1918 and progressing to the time of the boardwalk’s sudden demise in 1944.
In the absence of the boardwalk, years later, beach umbrellas entered the picture and proved useful and popular as a means of escaping the direct sunlight on those hot afternoons. While we can only anticipate the reopening of shore businesses, beaches, and boardwalks in New Jersey and are excited for ‘Stage 2’ of Gov. Phil Murphy’s reopening plan, check out these views, and at least enjoy this virtual trip back in time!