Hur­ri­cane Sandy stirs up his­tory Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War spike pulled from the river

The Advance of Bucks County - - BRISTOL AREA - By El­iz­a­beth Fisher

Ad­vance cor­re­spon­dent

BRIS­TOL BOR­OUGH - Mem­bers of the An­chor vacht Club set out on a ten­der to re­move buoys from the Delaware River on Nov.10. But lit­tle did they know that the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War would in­trude on their labors.

BuRys DUH WKRsH IDPLOLDU FRORUHG flRDWHUs that are an­chored by chains and at­tached to con­crete blocks em­bed­ded in the river. They serve as hitch­ing posts, keep­ing “parked” ERDWs IURP flRDWLng DwDy.

On this day, work­ers were frus­trated early on be­cause they had to un­tan­gle a 24-foot WUHH IURP WKH fiUsW RI 30 EuRys WKDW KDG WR EH taken up. Thanks to Sandy, the tide and the wind had downed the tree and tossed it in the drink, said An­chor’s Com­modore hevin Coyne.

The sec­ond buoy brought an­other teeth­grind­ing job. An­other tree, or so they thought, was caught up in the chain of buoy num­ber two – 28 still to go. A sec­ond glance at the long wooden ob­ject told a dif­fer­ent story, thanks to the good mem­o­ries of a cou­ple of An­chor vacht Club mem­bers on land.

Coyne, a mem­ber of the land crew that day, knew on sight that the ob­ject was no tree. It was a valu­able and very old ar­ti­fact.

It looked, he said, just like a che­val-de­frise.

Trans­la­tion: a che­val-de-frise is a big spike that was low­ered into the river back in CoORnLDO WLPHs, SUREDEOy DURunG )W. 0LIflLn Ln Philadel­phia, to keep British ships from pro­ceed­ing up the Delaware by, it was hoped, punc­tur­ing a hole in the hull. Orig­i­nally de­signed to be used on land in me­dieval times against war­ring cav­al­ries, the wa­ter model was pro­duced by Robert Erskin to keep the Red­coats at bay. How would Coyne know what it was? “I thought it looked just like one I once saw in the news. It prob­a­bly be­came dis­lodged from river silt around Philadel­phia and the storm brought it up,” Coyne said.

Next came the ex­per­tise of An­chor vacht Club mem­ber Paul Edelkamp, who hap­pened to be in the club­house while the buoys were be­ing hauled in. Edelkamp works for Sunoco DW )W. 0LIflLn DnG wDs OuFNy HnRugK WR KDYH seen a che­val-de-frise (s-h-e-v-a-l-l d-a f-r-ee-z-e) brought up from the river near the fort a few years ago.

“I rec­og­nized it right away. But the one we sDw Ln PKLODGHOSKLD wDs sPDOOHU, DERuW fiYH feet long,” said Edelkamp.

The che­val-de-frise found by An­chor - it’s Oh to call it a spike - is 29 feet long.

Once the cum­ber­some ob­ject was on land, the next step was to au­then­ti­cate what Coyne DnG FRPSDny susSHFWHG, DnG WKHn figuUH RuW how to pre­serve it, said Amy McIl­vaine, an An­chor mem­ber who lives nearby and was called into ac­tion. She im­me­di­ately con­tacted the Grundy Li­brary and Mu­seum to tap into avail­able ex­per­tise.

“The Grundy Mu­seum peo­ple be­gan to iden­tify the steps needed to com­plete the YDOLGDWLRn SURFHss DnG WR finG D KRPH IRU LW in an ap­pro­pri­ately con­trolled en­vi­ron­ment,” McIl­vaine said.

Grundy pro­fes­sion­als left no stone unWuUnHG, DnG WKH nHws wDs SURPLsLng. 2Ifi­cials from Penns­bury Manor in calls Town­ship, the In­de­pen­dence Sea­port Mu­seum in Philadel­phia, the State of Delaware, and Mea­gan Ra­tini, a Bris­tol res­i­dent and a grad­u­ate stu­dent of ar­chae­ol­ogy at the Univer­sity of Mas­sachusetts in Bos­ton, are all in­volved.

As for the spike, it’s rest­ing com­fort­ably in the hands of Craig Wil­liams, a calls­ing­ton res­i­dent and an am­a­teur preser­va­tion­ist. He’s fol­low­ing the ad­vice of the ex­perts by keep­ing it sub­merged in wa­ter from the Delaware River and away from sun­light.

cind­ing a home may not be easy, McIl­vaine said, be­cause some ex­perts be­lieve that funds may have to be raised to keep the che­val-de-frise in­tact and pre­served. But it’s an ex­cit­ing time be­cause no one would ex­pect an ob­ject so rich in his­tory to be found off of Bris­tol Bor­ough. Hur­ri­cane Sandy brought much de­struc­tion but, at least in this case, ap­pears to have left be­hind a his­tor­i­cal gem.

“PDUW RI WKH SURFHss wLOO EH WR figuUH RuW how an ar­ti­fact came to the sur­face af­ter 200-plus years,” McIl­vaine said. “Sandy, it seems, brought his­tory into the light.”

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