During the summer of 1992, a group of fellow scuba divers met to discuss identifying a mystery wreck off Manasquan, New Jersey. Six years later, we successfully identified the wreck as the ship Amity of 1824.
Calling ourselves the New Jersey Historical Divers Association (NJHDA), we began lecturing and exhibiting shipwreck artifacts. Since then, many groups have found our message to be both fascinating and educational.
On April 24, 1995, the group began to formalize and become incorporated as a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) historical organization. The group is governed by an annually elected board of trustees who are assisted associate and project members.
NJHDA investigates many of the mis-named and unidentified shipwrecks off our coast. If we successfully identify a shipwreck, we share the investigation results with the world.
NJHDA identifies shipwrecks by recording the wreck sites we investigate. We take video and photographs, take accurate measurements of the sites, and collect and treat artifacts we determine will lead us to an identification. We then create accurate records of our findings and share them with the world.
As a result, we have amassed so much material we felt it incumbent upon ourselves to establish a New Jersey shipwreck museum.
NJHDA has been collaborating with the New Jersey Museum of Transportation to determine the origin of two sunken locomotives in 90 feet of water off Long Branch, NJ. The locomotives date to the 1850s. We have been studying the site, making video, photographic and remote sensing records. We have created detailed drawings of the site and collected material that is helping us determine who made them and where they were headed. Our progress has been featured on the History Channel's "Deep Sea Detectives" episode, "Underwater Train Wreck."
Of all the shipwreck sites off New Jersey NJHDA has identified, the wreck of the "John K. Shaw" is perhaps the most meaningful. The vessel, lost in 1884, was built on City Island, New York, was partly owned by a family with members living in Manasquan, and wrecked after a collision with another vessel off Long Branch. After identifying the wreck site, NJHDA was able to reunite descendants of the Shaw's owners and the family of the attorney who sought damages from the company that owned the Newport, the steamer that rammed and sunk the Shaw.
In 2013, an effort to mount an expedition to record the current state of the wreckage of the government steamer "Robert J. Walker" began. Plans were made, assets identified and acquired, and a team assembled. Working in conjunction with some of the staff and students of Richard Stockton University and employees of NOAA, NJHDA carefully recorded the wreckage and created accurate maps and illustrations of the wreck site as it appears today. The Coast Survey Vessel "Robert J. Walker" is listed on the Nation Register of Historic Sites.
Your support will help us maintain our museum, create educational exhibits, and fund expeditions to identify shipwrecks. Even small donations help in a big way.
NJHDA, Inc. is a non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization. All donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.
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