• September 15, 2019

1969: Citizens respond to dredge purchase with range of names - Ocean City Sentinel: News

1969: Citizens respond to dredge purchase with range of names

Monikers range from the ‘SS Sandy Pumpy’ to ‘Sandpiper’ to ‘The Swindler’

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Posted: Wednesday, September 4, 2019 11:00 am

OCEAN CITY – Though Ocean City has an agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for periodic beach replenishment, at one time the town purchased its own dredge for restoring eroded beaches. 

Along with the dredge came plenty of suggestions of how to name it – from the SS Sandy Pumpy to The Artful Dredger to Idiot’s Delight. The suggested names often reflected the opinions about the city buying a dredge.

The July 22, 1969 Ocean City Sentinel-Ledger reported how city officials and bond experts met and discussed the possibility of floating a bond issue to defray the cost of purchasing a sand-pumping dredge for a beach replenishment program. 

The city needed to acquire a dredge, an electric booster station, a tender boat and pipes and pontoons for about $500,000 to $750,000, with long-term bonds. 

In addition to the equipment, pumping sand from the inland waterway would require permission from the New Jersey Bureau of Navigation and from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Mayor Robert L. Sharp said the city would seek the required approval “immediately” so that all formalities were in order when the city decided to purchase a dredge

The city waited for word from its consulting engineers, Langley, McDonald and Overman of Virginia Beach, Va., on owning a dredge and performing beach replenishment. 

 Sharp noted that he intended to get a dredge in operation by sometime in the fall of 1969.

“By pumping sand on a 24-hours-a-day basis from fall until the spring of 1970 it would be possible to rebuild badly eroded central city beaches, the experts believe,” according to the paper. “Thereafter the dredge would be used to replenish beaches as needed and would also be used for dredging lagoons where silting has made channels too shallow.”

The dredge and equipment would cost $600,000 with a financing plan in place, the Ocean City Sentinel-Ledger reported July 25, 1969. 

Sharp said the cost was “enough to get us in the dredge business,” but noted that salary and wages for personnel to man the dredge and pipe lines are not included.

The dredge would be purchased from the Ellicott Machine Corp, of Baltimore, Md. Ellicott was one of the bidders that offered both new and used equipment to the city, the paper reported.

A new workboat to serve as a tender for the dredge and tow it will be purchased for $24,950 from the Gladdings, Hearn Ship Building Co., of Somerset, Mass. 

Armco, Inc. of Bala Cynwood, Pa., received $95,000 for the purchase of pontoon, pipe and ball joints.

“Sharp noted that the expenditures which will by committed immediately will total $364,510 but he added that a booster pump which will cost in the neighborhood of $100,000 will be contracted for in the near future,” the paper reported. “He explained all the $600,000 may not be expended.”

The idea of Ocean City acquiring its own dredge sparked both the imagination and ire of some residents and visitors. 

The public sent suggestions on possible names for the dredge that summer, and the Ocean City Sentinel-Ledger reported these on Aug. 1, 1969. 

Three people – Robert E. Sentz, Janet Wells and Laurene Mae Wackerhagan – suggested calling the dredge the SS Sandpiper. 

“Purists among Sentinel letter writers complained that since the dredge will have no motive power it shouldn’t be called the SS anything,” the paper reported. “SS stands for steamship, they point out.”

An unsigned letter suggested calling the dredge the SS Sindia, the SS Sandy Pumpy, the SS Sandy “B”, the SS Pumperoo, and SS Apollo XI, The Thing or the SS ArAlCo which stood for astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, who made their famous lunar landing mission a month before.

William Canizzaro suggested the SS Tortoise because the dredge would be “slow and sure.”

Betty Phelan suggested the SS I-Push-Um-Sand.

Mrs. Reynolds Mason recommended a name with the flavor of novelist Charles Dickens, “The Artful Dredger.”

“Everybody doesn’t like the dredge, however. An unsigned postal card carried six recommendations Sharp’s Folly, Idiot’s Delight, White Elephant, Waste-A-Money, Stupid, and Break the Town.”

Historian and “noted authority on the background of the city” Roy Darby, Sr., listed his choices for names: William Lake, who surveyed Peck’s Beach; Parker Miller, the first man to settle the island in 1859; Peck’s Beach, the name of the island prior to settling as Ocean City; Sand Dunes, the natural protection of the beachfront; Cedar Beach; Sand Piper or Sand Marten. 

 “The last few names were just afterthoughts but Darby’s real choices are either William Lake or Parker Miller,” the paper clarified. 

Readers continued making the case for naming Ocean City’s dredge, with “Sandpiper” a popular pick, the Ocean City Sentinel-Ledger reported Aug. 5, 1969.

“The name, the Sentinel’s correspondents say, combines the name of the little beach bird with the real job of the dredge, to pipe sand from the bay bottom to eroded beaches on the oceanfront,” the paper noted.

Maurice Lasker of Drexel Hill, Pa. recommended the dredge be named “The Beachsaver” as it describes the vessel saving the beaches.

Katherine Lear, a former resident, believed a suggestion by Colonel Richard Snyder that the dredge be named the “SS Save our Beaches” be adopted because Snyder played a part in arranging for the dredge’s purchase.  Lear said if the name is too much of a mouthful the initials might be used, or suggested calling it “SS Sandpile.”

Other names suggested include the “SS Sand Dollar” and “The Sandflea.”

“A writer who signs himself only ‘a taxpayer’ would like to have the dredge called ‘The Swindler’,” the paper reported. 

The Aug. 8, 1969 Ocean City Sentinel-Ledger reported that the city commissioners voted to purchase a $243,950 sand pumping dredge.

“Little was said at the City Commission when City Clerk Ruth G. Nickerson read the brief resolution awarding the dredge contract to the Ellicott Machine Corp., of Baltimore, Md., but Mayor Robert L. Sharp was plainly elated that over a year’s discussion, investigation and planning had reached fruition,” the paper reported. “If everything goes according to plan the first sand will be pumped from the bottom of the inland waterways by some time in October. It will be transported to the beaches through a pipeline across town and along the beachfront.”




The Aug. 12, 1969 Ocean City Sentinel-Ledger reported that the U.S. Army Engineers would decide if the city to replenish eroded beaches until late September. 

“The determination as to whether a permit will be issued will be based on an evaluation of all relevant factors including the effect of the proposed work on navigation, fish and wild life, conservation, pollution and the general public interest,” a notice signed by Lt. Col. John B. Kincaid announced.

The Sentinel reported that one million cubic yards would be dredged from a section of the bay starting at Fifth Street and extending a mile south toward the Ocean City-Longport bridge. 

The dredged section would be half a mile wide. 

“The city has applied to use its new dredge to dredge about two million cubic yards of sand from two separate areas,” the paper reported. “The other section where dredging would be undertaken is in the vicinity of 17th St. The operation would be confined to a bay area approximately 1,500 feet square. The usable sand would be piped across town to build up  beaches from North St. south to 21st St., the section where erosion has been most severe.”

Areas in the bay where the sand would be taken would be dredged to a depth of 25 feet at mean low water, the paper reported.


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