The winter blahs. That time of the year after the holidays, but before the spring, when the weather tends toward the dreary. It limits road trip planning, leaving mostly destinations that will be indoors. With rain yesterday, cloudy and foggy weather today, and then three consecutive days of rain in the forecast beginning tomorrow, the choices of road destinations were few and far between. However, one location had been on my list for a while and I decided to cross it off: one of the first American submarines, now on display at the New Jersey National Guard Militia Museum in Sea Girt.
For thousands of years, wars fought at sea were conducted by ships sailing atop the waves. However, for almost as long, naval strategists envisioned an ability to attack their enemies using ships that could descend beneath the waves. Being able to submerge a vessel would make it difficult to detect, capable of attacking other ships with little or no warning. However, the technology to create such ships did not truly exist until the mid 19th-century. During the Civil War, several such vessels were designed and tested, including the Intelligent Whale, a 28-foot long submersible vessel powered by hand-crank (yes, you read that correctly). Construction began in 1863, and the vessel used compressed air to dive and surface, and had a hatch at the bottom of the boat to allow a diver to exit the submarine, place an explosive charge on an enemy ship, and then return to the submarine.
The US Navy decided not to purchase the Intelligent Whale after it was built, and so it languished for years, first at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, and then later at the Washington Navy Yard. In 2007 the vessel was moved to the New Jersey National Guard Militia Museum in Sea Girt. The museum was established in 1980 at a NJ National Guard training center, and displays the history of New Jersey citizen-soldiers who have fought to defend the nation. About an hour-and-fifteen minutes from my home, I departed at midday to check out this interesting exhibit.
Now, if one thing is certain, it is that when I find myself near the shore, I go to the beach. Always. Finding myself near Sea Girt, a beach community incorporated in 1917, I thought I would stop by to spend a little time near the Atlantic Ocean (fun historical fact: former New York Giants head coach Bill Parcells is from Sea Girt). After walking along the beachfront, I was very impressed by the beautiful seascapes and unique houses. I doubt I would ever live here, however… the median house price is $1,135,184. I’ll stay with the southern Jersey shore towns, thank you very much!
The New Jersey National Guard Militia Museum is open every day from 10:00 am until 3:00 pm and is free (although donations are appreciated). The docent on staff took time to answer all of my questions, and gave me a tour of several unique museum pieces. If you are passing through Sea Girt, this small museum is definitely worth a stop. Thanks again for coming along on another Voyage of DH!
‘Til next time.