Sandy Exposes Ship Buried On Fire Island; Other Shocking Items Unearthed After Storm
Hurricane Sandy has unearthed a Canadian ship almost a century old that was buried in the sands of Fire Island since the early 1900s.
The ship washed ashore about four miles east of Davis Park on the Fire Island National Seashore. There are conflicting opinions on when the four-mast Canadian schooner ran aground years ago. But all reports say between 1919 or 1922.
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"There's so little of it left we may not be not be able to determine which ship it actually is, but we may be able to learn more about its age," Paula Valentine, public affairs specialist for Fire Island, said. "It's just a rare treat to see something exposed."
The Canadian schooner wasn't the only shocking discovery unearthed in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy's devastation. From Connecticut to Massachusetts, a skeleton, love letters and Pepsi bottles with notes have surfaced lending an eery and romantic twist to the tumultuous storm.
On Oct. 30, residents in New Haven, Conn. got a haunting feeling when a human skeleton appeared after uprooting a huge oak tree planted in 1909 in honor of a local Civil War hero.
"I noticed what I thought was a rock at first, I kind of poked it and a piece came off in my hand, and I noticed it was bone fragments," resident Katie Carbo told the local TV station WTNH. "So I took a stick and knocked some of the dirt away and noticed it was an entire skull and body and vertebrae, ribs."
There were romantic stories, too. N.J. resident Kathleen Mullen came across a bundle of letters when she was walking on the Henry Hudson Trail in Atlantic Highlands, N.J. the day after the storm. "They were obviously tied with a pink ribbon, so I automatically knew that they were love letters," Mullen told ABC News' New York station WABC-TV.
Though Mullen had no power, she decided she would take the letters home and dry them by her fireplace. Amazingly, the letters were still legible. Written by Dorothy Fallon of Rumson, N.J. and Lynn Farnham of Vermont between 1942 and 1947, they told a tale of a couple that was separated but thought of one another constantly.
"There isn't much more to tell you tonight, dear," one letter read. "I love you very much. Yours always, Dotty."
Mullen was determined to find the family members and return the letters to their original authors. So she posted information on Facebook and Craigslist. Ultimately, she found the information she was looking for on findagrave.com. There was a woman named Lynn Farnham in N.J. who had recently passed away. Through the website, Mullen found the couple's niece, Shelly Farnham-Hilber.
"It's magical. You go, 'This can't be real,'" Farnham-Hilber told WABC-TV about her aunt and uncle who were separated when the husband fought in World War II. "It's like a genealogical gold mine. It's just that moment that you think is lost forever and here is something. It's a gift."
The Farnhams' story wasn't the only dreamy revelation during Hurricane Sandy. Forty one years ago, a 12-year-old boy named Steven Smoot wrote three notes, wrapped them in sticks, and placed them in Pepsi bottles in the water off Salisbury Beach.
The first bottle was found within a month or two on Plum Island. The other two never showed up. Four decades later, photographer Mark Kanegis and his daughter were walking on the beach looking for undiscovered treasures after the storm. His 13-year-old daughter, Elise, suddenly spotted a bottle. The two decided to carefully break it open to investigate the contents.
"To whom it may concern, who ever finds this note Please take note of where and when you found this note . . . Steven F. Smoot, 35 Doonan St. Medford, Mass, 02155 U.S.A" the note read.
"The whole thing was so unlikely," Kanegis said. "I almost threw it away. The note almost broke apart and we almost lost his name. The next day was the nor'easter, and the moontides would have washed it back out till who knows when?"
He changed his mind, though, and decided to look for Smoot's number. After he got in touch with Smoot, the now-grown man was shocked. "The probability of this happening is almost infinite to me," Smoot said.
Kathleen Mullen felt the same way. "It kind of sent the message that love conquers all, you know, in such devastation," she said. "Something so delicate just washes ashore."
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