mm343: Next stop: E. Mermaid Blvd.

MUDGE’s Musings

This story hit NYTimes most emailed list the other day, so you may have encountered it.

But, it’s just too cool for an old railroad enthusiast, much less maritime enthusiast, to go unremarked upon.


Growing Pains for a Deep-Sea Home Built of Subway Cars

By IAN URBINA | Published: April 8, 2008

SLAUGHTER BEACH, Del. — Sixteen nautical miles from the Indian River Inlet and about 80 feet underwater, a building boom is under way at the Red Bird Reef.

One by one, a machine operator has been shoving hundreds of retired New York City subway cars off a barge, continuing the transformation of a barren stretch of ocean floor into a bountiful oasis, carpeted in sea grasses, walled thick with blue mussels and sponges, and teeming with black sea bass and tautog.

“They’re basically luxury condominiums for fish,” Jeff Tinsman, artificial reef program manager for the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, said as one of 48 of the 19-ton retirees from New York City sank toward the 666 already on the ocean floor.

So, let me count the ways this story seems more like a week late April Fools story, than reality:

  1. Subway cars. Do you hope that the last drunk human passengers were waken up and herded off beforehand?

  1. Subway cars. Who knew that the New York City subway system was so large that they’ve already disposed of 666 obsolete cars this way? And other states are breathlessly running down the platform hoping not to miss this particular gravy train?

  1. Delaware. Do YOU live in, or even near, a state with any department smart enough to take advantage of a free commodity for such an unusual application? Don’t get me started on how this might have worked in Illinois, which hasn’t gotten much right since they sent Abe Lincoln to Washington a few years ago.

  1. Artificial reefs. When you consider reefs, aren’t there coral involved, and tropical drinks? Who knew that it would be useful to build a reef or fourteen off the coast of Delaware?

  1. Redbird Reef. Did you ever imagine an ocean artifact would be named for a variety of subway car? What’s next, Exxon Valdez beach?

Unlikely, all, yes?

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Growing Pains for a Deep-Sea Home Built of Subway Cars – New York Times

I should mention that it is not the current habit of yr (justifiably) humble svt to “borrow” a photograph from a news story, as I have become sensitive about pesky constraints like copyright. (Faithful reader may recall a certain communication received from a certain popular website’s marketing department, in our very earliest days.)

But, when I do scrape a photograph (usually courtesy of, it must be for an exceptionally good reason, and as always, such a photo is linked to the original story.

Let’s face it, you wouldn’t begin to believe this story if you didn’t have the photographic evidence, would you?

Unlikely, but true, apparently. So true that the reef (reefs, actually Delaware has a bunch as they’ve been recycling New York subway trains for seven years!) have become a fisherman’s (and fisherfish’s) magnet, to the point that there are conflicts between hobbyists and commercial fishermen that will require litigation, or legislation, to resolve. No word from the tuna or mackerel about how they’re dealing with the crowds and contention.

Perhaps NYC should rethink giving those cars away to disappear forever in the deep. With the number of foreclosures out there, a bunch of homeless families might welcome a stainless steel shelter. After all, the fish believe that they’re luxury condominia.

If this nanocorner of the ‘Sphere© were that type of blog, we might be inclined to run a contest (prizes to be announced later):

Top 10 American Products Best Suited

to be Recycled in the Atlantic.

Sorry, it wouldn’t be seemly to propose a certain living president. Those nominations will be disqualified.

It’s it for now. Thanks,


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One Response to mm343: Next stop: E. Mermaid Blvd.

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