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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Treasure Hunting At Crab Island

I got the following email dealing with treasuring hunting at Crab Island, found it interesting, and thought I would share it with all of you. Perhaps someone out in the Blog-O-Sphere can add some information on the topic or have any ideas that you would like to share.

The Crab Island Fish Factory is located in Great Bay.
(Courtesy of Google Maps)

Recent Crab Island aerial view
(Courtesy of Bing Maps)

Fish Factory remains at Crab Island
(August 27, 2010 photo by Pete Stemmer)

Dear Mr. Stemmer,

I apologize in advance for this lengthy email, but I read about your recent lecture regarding the Crab Island Fish Factory, and I thought you might be interested in some information I have to share.

My name is Craig White. My parents have owned a summer home in the Holgate section of LBI for almost 40 years where I spent most of my summers as a youth (we lived in Berwyn, PA during the winter). I am 44 now and live in Annapolis, MD with my wife and 3 children. We still visit the island often, and I am still as interested as ever in the island and surrounding area’s history. In particular, the old fish factory is still a strange fascination and poses somewhat of a mystery to me.

The reason for my email is that I have been ‘haunted’ by some treasures that I found there at low tide under the western-most bulkhead during a five-year period in the 1980’s. I think your research has provided me with a potential clue as to the source of the treasures (e.g. the island’s use as a possible dumping ground by the Atlantic City Garbage Co. in the 1920’s). I was hoping you could confirm my guess or provide me with any additional ideas.

Very briefly, I’ll give you the story of my visits there and then a description of some of the items. My childhood friend Jerry Zodl (Jerry now lives in Tuckerton) began visiting the fish factory in our early teens on days off from clamming for his parent’s clam ‘stand’ business on the island. We would drive my old 13 foot whaler over there at low tide. At first we wandered and explored the factory buildings, office (a free standing building at the rear quite a way back that few knew about) and dormitories. All the main buildings used to be very accessible until the fires in the 80s and 90s. On one trip we happened to explore the small beach on the western-most side of the plant. It is next to the bulkhead/pilings where most curiosity seekers tie up their boats. At low tide, although it was somewhat dark, you can walk under the pier/decking. In a stooped or kneeled position, poking through the mud, eyes scanning the ground intently, wearing our “fish factory sneakers” is where we spent most of our time on future, frequent visits to this spot. Serious erosion has impacted this section along the bulkhead/shoreline over the years which leads me to speculate the treasures we found are products of the material dumped there by the A.C. Garbage Co. which is now washing out of the banks.

We dragged back thousands of items over the five-year period that we frequented the place. I still have boxes of carefully packed items – many junk. But, some of the more interesting items I found and still have in my possession include:

· Various silver coins – earliest date 1898, latest date 1926

· 2 separate sets of gold dental caps with bits of human teeth intact (MORE ABOUT THIS BELOW)

· 3 rings (one gold with initials ECC, another gold, and one silver with Chinese lettering)

· Various pieces of silverware, many with names of hotels stamped on them (ones says Hotel Knickerbocker. I think this was an A.C. hotel)

Knickerbocker Hotel in Atlantc City

· Various child’s toys (glass marbles and lead cars and trains)

· Various small bottles of all types (many medicine bottles), including many that still had corks intact that appear to have been preserved in the sludge from which they protruded. One such bottle is a cobalt blue Milk of Magnesia bottle dated 1906 which sits on a shelf in my office today to remind me of the good times I had “treasure hunting”.

I enclose a few pictures of some of the above items.



Rings & Teeth

My friend Jerry had equally impressive finds (although no gold teeth!) including a gold-engagement style ring (missing the stone), silver coins and an Atlantic City Taxi Cab badge.

As you can imagine, the rings and teeth have me truly puzzled. If it had been just one single such ‘find’, I would have chalked it up to the strong currents there washing ashore an item dropped from a boat. But, in this case there seems to be a pattern with the numerous items. And, this is only what we found ... every trip seemed to turn up something new... I am sure there is more laying there unfound. The gold teeth were found on separate trips several years apart although within 20 yards of each other. The larger set of teeth sends a shiver down my spine as it appears to have been fit over several molar teeth (4 in all). It is hard to imagine this slipped out of a living or conscious person’s mouth. Over the years my family has joked with me that I have Jimmy Hoffa’s teeth, and that I best “lay low.” I recall that there were old bones there under the pier but most looked to be from animals. On occasion, I have considered contacting the area police to see if there are any old, unsolved missing person’s cases in the area. Although, with the information about the A.C. Garbage Company’s use of the property in the 20’s, this gives me a new direction to consider.

Well, that’s my story and information. Any guidance or suggestions you can offer with respect to the mystery of the gold teeth is appreciated. I have many more details of our visits. I would be happy to share more details with you if you are interested.

Thank you for your time.


Craig White

Wow, Craig may have solved the mystery of Jimmy Hoffa's where-a-bouts! Can Judge Crater be far behind?

Pete S

PS: A note to Jim McAnney- Perhaps you should be tonging for gold teeth rather than clams. It may be more profitable.

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