Ancient Anchor

Apr 6, 2004
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Ancient Anchor?

Found this in my backyard today:



These are four of the more intact pieces I found. They are rather brittle due to perhaps centuries of corrosion in the water. Perhaps Budd Wilson will help me figure this out.
 

Teegate

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Sep 17, 2002
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That is a great find Gabe! Bud I am sure would love to see it.

Guy
 
Gabe:

It would be most helpful if you could re-photograph these artifacts with a ruler or yardstick in front so the sizes of the individual items could be better assessed. This is always the best and proper way to shoot photos of such items. Otherwise, it is almost impossible to determine what size anchor once sported these metal parts.

Best regards,
Jerseyman
 

GermanG

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Apr 2, 2005
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I don't know what struck me more, the pics of the anchors or the quote that you found them in your backyard. Suddenly my backyard seems awfully boring! :D
 
Nov 12, 2007
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Super cool, I, as well, am having a hard time imagining these pieces being one anchor. The pieces on the left look like parts of a borken propellor, interesting, never the less I am now more than ever excited to dive with you!!
 
Apr 6, 2004
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Here are some more pieces of the puzzle:



It now seems that I was dead wrong. I did not find an anchor(s). I seems that I did in fact find a 250 year old pile of trash. They most likely represent poorly cast iron products, including a number of stove legs. Perhaps they were used as ballast?
 

MarkBNJ

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Jun 17, 2007
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Wow, that is really cool. We now have another mystery on our hands. We'll need annotated photos of the individual items with scale references so the quest can begin in earnest.

I really thought Ben nailed it on the first couple pieces, but I have no idea what that pile of stuff is.
 

LARGO

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Sep 7, 2005
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Pestletown
I like the ballast idea Gabe, it is very believable. Would you not have found the booty in a somewhat concentrated area though?
No matter what it is a great find and you're a gentleman for sharing. (I'll say a boater or two should thank you for a saved prop from that junk)

I know it sounds nuts but I keep looking at the pieces and seeing letters, as if from old signage discarded.(I know, cast iron letters, unlikely)
Maybe it is discard from the marketing folks from a first go around where Starbucks tanked over a century ago. History repeating itself?

g.
 
Apr 6, 2004
3,166
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Galloway
LARGO,

I can't claim the ballast idea as my own, but it does make sense. The fact that it is concentrated in one small spot might suggest that it is not ballast, but, then again, it was probably uncommon to use trash as ballast. But yes, one man's trash is another's treasure. Which is why I litter whenever I can. Kidding, of course.

Here's another idea. Perhaps a load of cast iron goods were inspected at the docks prior to being brought aboard. The items that failed inspection were cast aside.

Then again, maybe someone at some point gathered the artifacts together in a pile just to mess with my head.


I'll have all know that I returned all but a few of these artifacts to where I found them. The few I have kept will be offered to the State.
 

Ben Ruset

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I'm not feeling the ballast theory. I'm also not feeling the "didn't pass QC so it was dumped overboard" either. I don't think bad castings would have made it out of the furnace, and even if they did get to the boat, it's not likely they would have left land. If it did get on the ship, it's not the captains job to QC the freight and dump what he didn't like overboard.

They could be scrap pieces that were being transported to a forge to be reclaimed but that doesn't explain why they'd be in the river.

This is a real mystery.

Jerseyman, do you know if any journals exist of any of the iron transporting ships that plied the waters of the Mullica?
 
I'm not feeling the ballast theory. I'm also not feeling the "didn't pass QC so it was dumped overboard" either. I don't think bad castings would have made it out of the furnace, and even if they did get to the boat, it's not likely they would have left land. If it did get on the ship, it's not the captains job to QC the freight and dump what he didn't like overboard.

They could be scrap pieces that were being transported to a forge to be reclaimed but that doesn't explain why they'd be in the river.

This is a real mystery.

Jerseyman, do you know if any journals exist of any of the iron transporting ships that plied the waters of the Mullica?
Ben:

I have copies of logs and journals from flatboat operators—including one that regularly navigated Big Timber Creek—but I have not seen any records related to moving iron on the Mullica. A pity, to be sure!

I tend to agree with you, Ben, and I suspect that a portion of a casting shipment may have accidently dropped overboard during the loading process. I well remember back in the 1970s when the county replaced the Route 541 bridge over the Rancocas Creek in Lumberton. The town of Lumberton served as the headwaters shipping port for many of the South Jersey ironworks and they all maintained landing lots and wharves along the Rancocas there. When the divers went into the creek to conduct work on the new bridge footings, they brought up ingot after ingot of pig iron with the names of the various furnaces cast into the top of the pig. Atsion, Batsto, Ætna, and many others were represented in these pieces of iron. During the movement of the pigs from the wagons to the waiting vessels, invariably some would drop overboard and no one bothered with an attempt to retrieve the lost product. The same may apply here. Whether it was a lack of the technology necessary to pull the castings from the river or just a lack of gumption, if it dropped overboard it appears to have remained in the river.

The ironmaster would assess the casting quality right at the furnace and if a casting did not measure up, it went back into the crucible for remelting and reuse.

I’m not sure we will ever know the whole story with full certainty, but I suspect there may be some additional castings nearby.

Nothing like another mystery to keep the juices flowing!!

Best regards,
Jerseyman
 
A nice mystery is where did all of that pig iron go?
Ben:

Some of it went to the Burlington County Historical Society and I presume the Lumberton Historical Society may have a piece or two. Some, I think, went to the NJ State Museum and to Batsto, but I understand a considerable number of the recovered pigs “wallowed” into private collections—mine NOT among them!

Best regards,
Jerseyman