Archive for the ‘Atlantic’ Category

It’s nearly spring, so it’s time for the annual search for munitions on the beaches of Surf City

According to this article, the feds are again searching for munitions that may be under the sand in Surf City and Ship Bottom.

With World War I winding down, Navy ships patrolling the New Jersey coast found themselves with leftover ammunition and no targets for it. So they dumped it overboard, probably thinking the fuses and other ordnance would never be seen or heard from again. Nearly 90 years later, the fuses resurfaced, invading the shores of two of New Jersey’s most popular beaches, Surf City and Ship Bottom in Ocean County.

Now the federal government is in the third — and hopefully final — year of a cleanup that will cost nearly $17 million. So far, work crews have retrieved 1,213 pieces of munitions, mostly 6 to 8-inch-long fuses filled with gunpowder that could explode if jostled or struck. “We’re not too happy with the fact that this work has to be done,” said Pete Shearer, who owns an oceanfront house in Surf City where a huge backhoe was chewing up the beach and sand dunes about 5 feet from his back deck Tuesday morning. “But we’re pleased with the fact that the problem is being corrected.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers unwittingly sucked the munitions from the sea bed and pumped them ashore as part of a massive beach replenishment project begun in late 2006 to keep the towns’ beaches nice and wide. In March 2007, beachgoers started spotting odd-shaped rusty metal items in the sand. Some took them home, and one even scraped rust off one of the items with a butter knife before thinking twice about continuing. The discoveries spurred jokes among locals and tourists about “getting bombed in Ship Bottom” and even created a cottage industry of T-shirts with slogans like, “I Had a Blast on Long Beach Island,” a narrow, 18-mile barrier island about 30 miles north of Atlantic City.

Keith Watson, project manager for the Army Corps, said the government checked thoroughly before starting the $71 million beach replenishment project and had no reason to believe that any munitions were in the area. In addition to researching military records, the Army Corps searched the area with metal detectors, and took sand samples in the area from which they intended to pump sand, a bed about 2 1/2 miles northeast of Surf City.

Lucy the Elephant

Lucy is an example of zoomorphic architecture, that is, a building shaped like an animal. The concept for an animal shaped building was deemed innovative & unique, and now no one else could build one unless they paid him royalties. Read more about Lucy at the official Lucy the Elephant page or at a Lucy fan page (which tells much more about Lucy then the official page…)

James Lafferty owned a desolate stretch of sand dunes and scrub pine at the Jersey shore. In 1881 constructed Lucy the Elephant as a way to generate interest in the area, and sell real estate. It worked & people came from all around to marvel at the gigantic beast. It was deemed a success, so Lafferty built two more. A twelve-story structure twice as large as Lucy, the “Elephantine Colossus” was located in the center of Coney Island. The third elephant was slightly smaller than Lucy, was called “the Light of Asia,” and helped draw crowds to Cape May The Colossus burned down and the Light of Asia was torn down, leaving Lucy the only survivor.

Lucy is 6 stories tall, weights 90 tons and is made from tin & wood. It can be seen from as far out as 8 miles at sea. It originally housed a bar, which closed during Prohibition, then reopened when the laws were changed. As people began to travel further from home via air, destinations such as the shore faded, and Lucy no longer drew the crowds as she once had. Lucy fell into disrepair, and by the 1960s, was a slated to be torn down. In 1969, the “Save Lucy Committee” was formed by the Margate Civic Association. Lucy was moved to beachfront land owned by the city and was designated as a historic site. Fundraisers have since been conducted, which have allowed Lucy to be fully restored. Tours are conducted routinely for a nominal fee.



The Galleon Ship of Absecon


This old galleon ship can be seen on S Black Horse Pike in Absecon. Currently it functions as an antique shop, which makes sense considering how old this boat is. There once were a number of these ships sitting on roadsides throughout New Jersey, but the only other one burnt down a few years ago. It originally functioned as a rental office for the Absecon Beach Camp, then became a gas station before being it became what it is today. The shop was closed when I went by so I couldn’t go inside. I’d be quite curious to see if the inside is “normal” or it is similarly themed to appear as if you’re actually inside an old ship….

The Sindia Shipwreck


The Sindia was a 4 masted sailing ship which ran aground on the beach of Ocean City after 4 days of rough weather had beat the ship and its crew down. The steel hulled ship was pushed hard into the sand, cracking the hull and filling the ship with water and sand. 100 years later the ship remains on the beach, but beach replenishment efforts and the shifting of the shoreline has completely covered the ship. What remains buried there is a mystery, because some believe it contained a secret cargo of stolen art from the middle east…

Read more about the Sindia at the official website.

Temple for Hope & Knowledge suffers a fire, and is sued for fraud

I’ve come across several news articles that chronicle the end of the Temple for Hope & Knowledge. The church was sued successfully in 2001 for $200,000. The church then filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In November 2003 the paper reported that “A sheriff’s sale of the Temple of Hope and Knowledge was delayed on Thursday for the second time. The sale was originally scheduled for October, but the temple’s owner, 92-year-old Sole Mio Balaam Nicola, was granted a postponement (Press of Atlantic City, NJ)”

I visited the temple in January 2004 and discovered that the temple has suffered a massive fire.

Follow the dates. The church gets sued, it declares bankruptcy as reorganization but is forced to sell the property, and now there’s a fire? Hello? Can anyway say “insurance scam”? The church settled a lawsuit accusing it of having scammed a man out of a lot of money, so if true, insurance fraud and arson aren’t an unreasonable assumption. Note: this all entirely speculation by me. I have no evidence other then two eyes and a brain.

As of January 2005 there is a for sale sign on the property.

Return trip to the Temple for Hope and Knowledge

I made a return visit & again no one was there. I saw a neighbor and asked if they knew anything. She said that the “church” met every Saturday in the early afternoon. They have healing sessions and pray to God, but “not god like you & I know it, not the Catholic or Christian god.”

I think I already had that one figured out…



The Temple for Hope & Knowledge




I saw this while we were driving near Atlantic City, stopped and I took these pictures. No one was around, and I wasn’t going to knock on the door. What I’m curious to know is whether or not the interior of these buildings are normal rooms, or if the inside is open to the roof, like the Luxor Casino in Vegas is.

The Weird NJ page about it features a statement from the TFH&K about their mission.