Tugboat Graveyard – Staten Island, New York - Atlas Obscura

Tugboat Graveyard

Final resting place of two dozen New York City harbor ships. 


Squeezed between Staten Island and New Jersey is Arthur Kill waterway and the Witte Marine Equipment Company. Over the last century, Witte Marine has slowly dismantled hundreds of ships that once crowded the bustling piers of New York’s coastline. Even with a steady stream of salvage work and deconstruction, many old tugboats and smaller harbor ships have accumulated on the shores of Arthur Kill and now rot in shallow water.

From a distance, the Tugboat Graveyard looks like trash floating off the coast in an incredibly polluted waterway. With a closer look, it becomes clear that the jumble of wood and metal parts are actually the ghosts of New York’s shipping era, slowly sinking into the murk. Rusted tugboats bump tilt in the mud, elbow to elbow with other dredging vessels as they slowly decompose.

A 1990 New York Times story reported that 200 ships were sharing space in the Tugboat Graveyard. Today, kayakers visiting the area report that there are fewer than 25, each a jumble of broken beams and rusted metal. Over time, all the useful parts have been stripped or stolen. The hollow shells of these ships now stand alone to greet adventurers with an eery silence amidst the slow current of Arthur Kill.

Know Before You Go

Take the 4 train to Fulton Street, transfer to the x19 bus and ride to Arthur Kill Road

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