Treasure Hunt at Dead Horse Bay

Treasure Hunt at Dead Horse Bay

Amy Azzarito
May 22, 2009

click thumbnails for larger pics

A few weeks ago, I, along with the lovely and talented Amy Merrick, woke up early to be out at Dead Horse Bay by low tide. Dead Horse Bay, in Floyd Bennett Field, was basically the Fresh Kills of the 1850's through the 1930's, now it's a scavenger's dream. When the tide is out, the beach is filled with bottles, ceramics, and other treasures from the early twentieth century. Amy had been to the beach last November, so she graciously agreed to escort me on this trip. We hunted alongside some serious bottle collectors who gave us tips on searching. Everything was covered in silt so you certainly needed a good eye to spot the treasures! We returned home with our finds to clean them up.

Are you curious as to why the spot is called Dead Horse Bay? According to the New York Times, From the 1850's until the 1930's, the carcasses of dead horses and other animals from New York City streets were used to manufacture glue, fertilizer and other products at the site. The chopped-up, boiled bones were later dumped into the water. The squalid bay, then accessible only by boat, was reviled for the putrid fumes that hung overhead.

I thought I might have seen one leg bone (but I might have been imagining it!). Everything was covered in a rusty, smelly silt, so cleaning up our finds was a challenge. I soaked my treasures in bleach, but had trouble with some stubborn rust stains. Amy suggests using Barkeepers Friend products.

1-4,6 Photos: Amy Azzarito (rice flowers from Sprout Home)
5,7 Photos: Amy Merrick
8 Photo: Ginny Branch (Amy's bottles made an appearance at Ginny Branch's wedding shower!)

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