This story has it all — a summer vacation, a walk on the beach, a mysterious piece of wreckage, a shipwreck, and a good ending! Two years ago, Peter Lengel (furthest left) chanced up a 4-by-5 inch red tile while walking along Long Beach Island, New Jersey during a family vacation. He brought the tile back home to Pennsylvania because, as he said, “it was something cool that I found along the beach.” But when the Lengel family recently visited the Long Beach Island Museum, Peter realized he had found a part of New Jersey’s rich maritime heritage; a similar tile was part of an exhibit about shipwrecks off the Jersey shore. The tiles were actually roofing tiles loaded as ballast on the Italian ship Fortuna, which ran aground off Long Beach Island in January 1910.
The rest of the story is inspiring (especially in an age of relic hunting–think Odyssey Marine Exploration). As The Abington Journal reports:
Now, Lengel said he doesn’t want to hold on to the tile, but wants to share his experience by donating the tile to Long Beach Island Museum. He said he’s eager to present the museum with the piece of history he found, something he plans to do during the Lengels’ next family vacation. “I really want to share the tile with the museum, because it belongs there.”
Kudos to Peter and the Lengel family–I’m looking forward to seeing his tile next time I visit the Long Beach Island Museum! Hopefully, the museum will not just add Peter’s tile to the shipwreck exhibit but use it to tell a broader story about maritime heritage, beachcombing, and historic preservation.