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The Lizzie D Shipwreck  New York's Wreck Valley

Historical and current New York's Shipwreck Information and images for scuba divers and fisherman.
 

 A tug weighing 122 gross tons, the Lizzie D was 15 years old and valued at $25,000 when she sunk on October 19, 1922.

 According to the owner's casualty report, filed with the Department of Commerce's Bureau of Navigation, the 84 foot tug was on a "cruise of the narrows," carrying no cargo, but with eight crew members on board when she went down. The Lizzie D was reported sunk due to unknown reasons. All of her crew were lost. 

         In July of 1977, captain John Larsen located the wreck. He discovered that this was not just a sunken tug boat, but a prohibition rum runner. Joan Fullmur recovered the ship's brass bell which identified the wreck. Also recovered were portholes and crates full of 100 proof Kentucky bourbon and Canadian rye whiskey. This first group of divers on the Lizzie reported that the whiskey "still smelled good". Immediately after, divers from all over started to reap the bounty from this site. Her bronze helm was soon found 50 feet away, lying in the sand off her starboard bow.

    As a side note, ever since I was first certified and started diving local shipwrecks, I was always under the assumption that a diver who found one, two or at the most three bottles on this wreck during any dive was extremely lucky. Well, a few summers ago Bill Campbell, Rick Schwarz, Steve Jonassen and I were extremely lucky. In one day we recovered almost 40 bottles. Steve found a complete case of dark green "Johnny Walker" bottles; Bill found an assortment including one full bourbon bottle which still had a lead seal over the cork. This seal read "Bourbon Whiskey 100 proof". Rick and I also filled our bug bags and had four bourbon bottles still containing whiskey. Not a bad catch for a day's diving!.

 Since that day, we have returned to the wreck many times. Our artifacts have been displayed in local museums, libraries, and in the windows of local dive shops. Some of the bottles and underwater video taken that day have even appeared on local cable TV shows. But best of all, we now know that the Lizzie D, is still delivering her cargo of illegal whiskey, not to the "speak easy's" of the roaring 20's, but to a few lucky sport divers who frequent an area known as Wreck Valley.

 Today, the Rum Runner, as she is more commonly known, rests in 80 feet of water, eight miles southeast of Atlantic Beach Inlet. Her hull sits upright and mostly intact except for the entire upper deck which lies in pieces surrounding the wreck. She looks like a giant rowboat with many openings in the main deck. Her boiler rises just over her deck and openings ahead and astern allow easy penetration. Most of the cargo of full bottles is gone; her interior is littered with about two feet of broken glass and mud, but for the lucky few who dig in and around the wreck, intact bottles can still be found. If a diver is lucky enough to find an unbroken bottle, it is usually empty with the cork forced inside the glass. Increasing ambient pressure during the sinking compressed the small amount of air in a full bottle, causing the cork to be sucked inward. Bourbon bottles seem to hold their corks the best due to the shape of the bottle's neck. Therefore, whenever a bourbon bottle is found, the chances are much greater that it may still contain whiskey. Fishermen can hit the Rum Runner on their way to or from almost any of the west end's deep fishing grounds.

 In 1996 divers Fred Belise, Jim Fazzarloie and I started to dig on the Lizzie with a water dredge. The results were impressive. We recovered hundreds of bottles. Fred recovered not only silver coins but a small brass engine room  bell.

Coins recovered from the Lizzie D Shipwreck by Fred Belise and Dan Berg

Fred Belise with engine room bell and a dark green bottle recovered from the Lizzie D wreck. Photo by Dan Berg

Bell from Lizzie D. Photo by Dan Berg

Ship in a bottle replica of the Lizzie D wreck built in a bottle recovered from the wreck.

 

Lizzie D painting by Frank Liter.

Joane Fulmer with the bell from the Lizzie D. Courtesy Dan Berg Wreck Valley Collection.

Mike McMeekin with a bottle from the Lizzie D. Photo by Dan Berg

Capt. Dan with a variety of bottles from the wreck of the Lizzie D.

Fred Belise with engine room bell from the Lizzie D. Photo by Dan Berg

Steve Bielenda with lamp glass. Photo by Dan Berg

Lizzie D Courtesy Dan Berg Wreck Valley Collection.

Capt. Dan Berg recovered this lamp from the Lizzie D in 2004.

Capt. Dan Berg with china from the Lizzie D wreck.

Sketch of the Lizzie D as she site on the bottom. Courtesy Dan Berg Wreck Valley Collection.

Bow of the Lizzie D. Photo by Joe koppelman

The Lizzie D's boiler. Photo by Joe Koppelman.

Side scan sonar image of the Lizzie D. Courtesy Dan Berg Wreck Valley Collection.

Steve Jonassen and Dan Berg with bottles from the Lizzie D.

 

 

 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 

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