How to add a posting below . . .

To add a new posting, send an email to me at with a comment, question, story, photo, observation, etc. It will be posted below, shortly after the email is received. To comment on an existing posting, click on the "comments" command below the posting and type your comment. Your comment will show up immediately.   Pete Stemmer

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Mysterious Artifact Revealed

Well, it's been about a week since I asked if anyone out in the Blog-O-Sphere could tell me what the unknown artifact actually was. There were a bunch of interesting answers, but only one was correct. Betty Petzak hit the nail on the head when she said that "The artifact was a platform with a lady on a horse advertising the Steel Pier high diving horse show." Her observation was confirmed by Steve Eichinger who was exploring the remains with Rickey "White Shoes" Steele this past January. Steve remembers seeing the plaster sculpture of the lady on the diving horse in the 1940's. White Shoes was just a baby at the time.

The roadside advertising display was placed on property owned by the Hedevary family. George Hedevary, now in his 90's, remembers that the family received free passes to the Steele Pier for allowing the lady and the diving horse to be placed on their property. They thought it was a pretty good deal.

In the 1940's roadside advertising was in its hay day. In our area much of the roadside advertising was for the Steel Pier in Atlantic City which was a major east coast tourist attraction which drew traffic from the metropolitan areas of Philadelphia and New York. The statue reminded tourists traveling from New York to Atlantic City along "Old New York Road", now Route 9, that they were getting close to their destination.

The Steel Pier in Atlantic City brought a lot of traffic through New Gretna, as tourists from New York traveled through town along Old New York Road, now Route 9, during the 1940's and 1950's, before the construction of the Garden State Parkway. (Postcard courtesy of Google Images.)

The only remains of the advertising sculpture is the wooden frame of the base, a mere skeleton of its former grandeur.

The sole remains of the Diving Horse advertising sculpture off Route 9 in New Gretna. (January 14, 2010 photo by Pete Stemmer.)

I have not been able to find a photo of the Lady and the Horse. It was likely a cement based plaster sculpture, an art form that was popular at that time. The following photo, while not the Lady on the Horse, shows the distinctive style which was perfect for advertising the many attractions available at the Steele Pier.

It is a similar base of the advertising structure that remains in the woods along Route 9 in New Gretna. The words were probably similar with the "See Baby Animals at" likely replaced with "See the Diving Horse at".

I remember my parents taking me to the Steel Pier in the early 1950's to see the diving horse. For its time, it was quite a site, although by today's standards it would probably be rather tame. We've become too sophisticated for such simple entertainment, and I'm not sure we're the better for it.

For those of you who have never had the pleasure of visiting the Diving Horse at the Steel Pier, you may enjoy the following video. For others, it may bring back pleasant memories. Enjoy!

Pete S


  1. I vaguely remember the "artifact" and Steel Pier. The "artifact" was something we passed by frequently. I must have been around four or so when we made a visit to the Pier. Were those bleachers used for any event other than the diving horses? I remember sitting in them but do not remember why. We also went down in the bathysphere-does anyone remember that?
    My aunt Jeannie Magee had a shooting gallery on the boardwalk for some years starting in the 50's if I recall and the Pier wasn't too far away.
    Beverly Mathis Robinson

  2. I remember Steel Pier well from the late 50s through the 60s. My parents took me there numerous times, and later they would drop my cousin and I off to enjoy the pier all day. As I recall there were three movie theaters, live shows, exhibits, fun houses, water circus (included diving horse), dance hall, diving bell, games and arcades. All for one low entry fee! We would get a printed schedule of events and plan the day in rough terms. Couldn't miss the Three Stooges (a guy thing) in the Music Hall, or the water circus at the end of the pier. The water circus had animal acts (trained seals, etc.), diving clowns that used the same act and jokes year after year, but it was so much fun! They would dive off the pier into the ocean. And the master of ceremonies was well known locally and was a constant year after year. The diving horse was the final act of the water circus. And the big clock with "Next Show" with movable hands marking the time of the next water show. I only went on the diving bell once, but knew the routine. My date didn't. So I quickly got in line and in the bell with her before she knew how it came back up. It was pulled to the bottom with steel cables, and when ready to surface they simply released the brakes on the cable and it would quickly bob to the surface. Many screams, including my date! And they had a microphone in it so all those at the top could hear it all. In the summer, Ed Hurst would broadcast a TV dance and music show from the pier. I remember watching acts like the Supremes from the pier. I have many many good memories of Steel Pier. I'll stop here.