It’s been two years since Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast, but crews are still working on measures that could protect communities in the event of a future superstorm. Without such work, crews might never have discovered a piece of history buried on a New Jersey beach.
According to the Asbury Park Press, two construction machines broke while putting up a steel barrier on Mantoloking and Brick, two Ocean County communities. After those incidents, crews investigated what they struck and found what could be a 19th century shipwreck 25 feet below the surface of the sand.
“I was shocked,” Brick Mayor John Ducey told ABC News of the discovery.
Experts who were brought in to further analyze the vessel speculate that it could be a Scottish ship that carried 201 English and Irish immigrants that sunk in January 1850. The location of this shipwreck was never identified until, perhaps, now, the newspaper reported.
Dan Lieb, a shipwreck expert, told WCBS-TV that the Ayrshire sinking marked the first time people were rescued with a life boat that was enclosed with a metal roof. The Smithsonian Institute reports that only one person of the 166 passengers and 36 crew members wasn’t saved in the 60 rescue trips made by the life boat pulled on ropes.
“In the case of a near-shore disaster, you would set up a line between ship and shore. And in clothesline style, you would run this little metal cart out there, fill it with people, and then bring them back,” Lieb told WCBS.
Watch the news station’s report about how the people were rescued from the ship:
For now, work on the barrier has stopped for proper excavation of the shipwreck site. It has yet to be confirmed if the vessel was actually the Ayrshire ship.
This story have been updated for clarity.