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Abandoned, Industrial

Port Reading’s McMyler Coal Dumper

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The abandoned McMyler Coal Dumper in Port Reading, NJ

There’s a stretch of the Arthur Kill between Rossville, Staten Island and Port Reading, New Jersey that’s something of an abandoned wonderland.  From the New Jersey side, the horizon is dominated by the twin natural gas tanks of Chemical Lane, and the famous Staten Island Boat Graveyard is plainly visible just across the water.  But towering over the scene is a structure that rivals both with its staggering beauty and power—the McMyler Coal Dumper.

Actually, it would be more accurate to call it a McMyler Coal Dumper. It was one of many nearly identical structures built on the shores of the New York Harbor in the early-to-mid 20th century, including two on Pier 18 in Jersey City. But the Port Reading site is notable for being the last one standing in the New York area. It was constructed in 1917, making it 99 years old at the time of this post.

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A 1957 ad for Pier 18 in Jersey City, which boasted two “Big Mac” McMyler Dumpers.

In a vast regional network of coal mines, breakers, railroads, and manufacturing hubs, these machines provided a vital link that helped fuel New York’s industrial age, transferring massive amounts of coal brought by rail from Pennsylvania and the Alleghenies into ships entering the harbor.  A McMyler Dumper could unload a 72-ton car of coal every two and a half minutes, operating on a continuous loop for maximum efficiency.

Upon entering the pier, railroad “hoppers” carrying a full load of coal would be pushed up a ramp with a mechanism called a barney. Once in position at the base of the tower, the entire car and its contents would be lifted up on an unloading platform and tilted at 120 degrees, spilling the coal into an enormous “pan,” which funneled the material through an unloader chute and into the holds of outgoing barges. Once empty, the car would be lowered and pushed onto a kickback trestle by the next car in the line-up.  These rails looked very much like a roller coaster, and they worked in a similar fashion, using the power of gravity to propel empty cars off of the pier and into the rail yards beyond. The contraption required twelve men to operate, and the work was risky. The brute force of the machine claimed many lives and limbs over the years.

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A braver soul would have climbed the tower, but I was satisfied with the view from the pier.

The design stood the test of time, and the pier operated for over 60 years with nearly uninterrupted use (a fire caused considerable damage in 1951, but the unloader was quickly rebuilt.) With demand for coal declining, the machine dumped its last load in the early 80s, and has been steadily deteriorating ever since. Though there has been interest in designating the structure an historic site, its location on private property in an active industrial area has made it an unlikely candidate, and the cost of restoring or moving the structure would be prohibitive, to put it mildly.  Unless new industrial development threatens the site, it will likely remain a picturesque ruin for another century before eventually collapsing into the Kill and vanishing into the muck.

That is lucky for the throng of Canada Geese who’ve made a surreal home out of the hulking relic.  Though they’re nice to look at, I’ve never had a pleasant encounter with these creatures, and have been charged at by enough of them on the remote shores of the outer boroughs to know they mean business.  This time around they were content to squawk and hiss their disapproval from a distance, but I would advise everyone to stay far away during nesting season, which is right around the corner.

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The self-appointed guardians of the coal dumper.

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A pair of steam engines inside the machine room powered a cable drum…

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…which controlled the “barney,” a mechanism used to push cars onto the unloading platform.

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These cable drums raised and lowered the unloading platform.  Much of the machinery has been removed by scrappers over the years.

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The place has a fair amount of graffiti, some quite old. Kaleen’s protestation on the upper right was particularly endearing.

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A derelict ferry boat sinks into the Kill on an adjacent pier.

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The pan and chute, pictured here, were left in an upright position until Hurricane Irene sent them crashing onto the pier below in 2011.  An operator would have sat in the little chamber on the right. A pair of abandoned gas tanks in Rossville, Staten Island can be seen on the horizon.

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Low Tide at the McMyler Coal Dumper.

You can see (a model of) a McMyler Coal Dumper in action in the following video:



Discussion

5 thoughts on “Port Reading’s McMyler Coal Dumper

  1. Love your posts and photos– they’re so interesting. The video of the McMyler model was great fun to see, especially as my father was a mechanical engineer who designed conveyor systems for the auto industry and others. This was similar but on a mammoth scale.

    Like

    Posted by Nancy Perkins | 2-11-16., 11:25 am
  2. Amazing bit of industrial history. My late father began working for J&L Steel’s Coal Division as a miner in 1929 at age 12. He was a 50-year-man when corporate raiders bought out and gutting the company, and survived mashed fingers and getting buried in a roof fall. Retired as the number two guy, although it didn’t save his pension and health care coverage from Reaganomics. Coal from Greene County, PA traveled by rail or river barge up the Mon to the steel mills in Pittsburgh. Met coal was mined here. That’s my dad, Frank T. “Scrubby” Wozniak, as my avatar pci.

    Like

    Posted by Julieann Wozniak | 2-11-16., 1:30 pm
  3. Hey Will, It sure has been awhile and well worth the wait!!! Since I am from Staten Island originally, I love any post you do related to SI. This one is great—the photos are so crisp and clear it is like I am right there….Hope all is well and Happy New Year!! Any plans for volume 2????

    Like

    Posted by Frank Brennan | 2-11-16., 6:49 pm
  4. Love your posts and photos– they’re so interesting. by the w coal from Greene County, PA traveled by rail or river barge up the Montain to the steel mills through Pittsburgh.

    Like

    Posted by Seance NYC | 2-15-16., 1:39 pm
  5. Thanks for the interesting post Will. I am doing research on a property in Lakewood, Ohio, that was owned by John and Mary MCMYLER, and this will certainly add to the story. Katharine O

    Like

    Posted by Katharine OTT, Ohio | 3-24-17., 3:47 pm

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Thanks to @6sqft for featuring my Staten Island project "Arthur Kill Road" on their Urban Lens series today. Head to the link in my bio to check out the interview.
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Pictured here: A foggy morning under the Verrazano Bridge at Fort Wadsworth.
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#arthurkillroad #nyc #statenisland #abandonednyc #somewheremagazine #explore #verrazanobridge #fortwadsworth #outerboroughs Another view of the Kreischer Street worker's houses through the seasons.
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#abandonednyc #abandoned #abandonedplaces #oldhouse #nyclandmarks #statenisland #outerboroughs #anotherplace #somewheremagazine #newyorkcity #seasons #timelapse #snow Kreischer Street, Staten Island.
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A row of landmarked workers' houses stand frozen in time on Kreischer Street, in view of the famous (and haunted) Kreischer Mansion in Charleston, SI. They were provided to employees of the Kreischer Brick Works, which operated on the waterfront here in the late 19th century.
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Check out the blog for more on the history of "Kreischerville." (link in profile)
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#arthurkillroad #arthurkill #nyc #outerboroughs #somewheremagazine  #picketfence #abandonednyc #oldhouses #oldhouse #oldhouselove #nylandmarks #nyclandmark (2/2) Enterprising beachcombers can still find colorful Atlantic tiles if they hunt long enough, but regular bricks are more common.  Strangely, their manufacturer's marks point to a wide range of origins, some from as far away as Texas and Missouri.
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(🔗 in profile for more views of NYC's "South Pole")
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#brickcollecting #brickhunting #beachcombing #tottenville #arthurkill #abandonednyc #abandonedplaces #statenisland #urbanexpliration #abandoned #nychistory #nyhistory (1/2) This unassuming patch of waterfront in Tottenville holds the remains of the Atlantic Terra Cotta Company, which made colorful architectural ornaments for many notable NYC buildings, including the Woolworth and the Flatiron.  The rubble was piled up on the edge of the Arthur Kill after the factory was demolished in the 1940s.
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(🔗 in profile for more views of NYC's "South Pole")
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#brickcollecting #brickhunting #beachcombing #tottenville #arthurkill #abandonednyc #abandonedplaces #statenisland #urbanexpliration #abandoned #nychistory #nyhistory A view of the Arthur Kill at dusk, with Outerbridge on the horizon.
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The name of the waterway is an anglicized version of the Dutch "achter kill" meaning back river or channel, referring to its position at the "back" of Staten Island.
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In an area rife with supposed hauntings, the Arthur Kill is itself a kind of ghost. The route was formed by an ancestral iteration of the Hudson River.
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Glacial activity altered the course to its current position but the vestigial strait remained, isolating a sneaker-shaped landmass. Staten Island was born.
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The Arthur Kill is home to several lesser-known "boat graveyards" in addition to the world-famous ship graveyard in Rossville.  This one sits off the Charleston waterfront.
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More photos and history on the blog (link in profile)
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#abandoned #abandonednyc #abandonedplaces #shipgraveyard #lostplaces #urbanexploration #urbex #outerboroughs #statenisland #silive #shipwreck #boatgraveyard #originstory #arthurkill #arthurkillroad #nycprimeshot #nyhistory #nyhistoricalsociety #nyc #newyork Outerbridge Crossing happens to be the outermost bridge in NYC, but it's named for Eugenius Outerbridge, first chairman of the Port of New York Authority, now the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. "Outerbridge Bridge" wouldn't do, so they deemed it a crossing.
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See more in my latest post on the blog outlining the remote edges of Tottenville and Charleston, the "South Pole" of New York State. (Link in profile)
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#urbanexploration #bridges #nycbridges #bridgesofinstagram #arthurkill #tottenville #urbanwilderness #nyc #newyorkcity #silive #urbex #underthebridge #longexposure #daylightlongexposure #topnewyorkphoto #statenisland #outerboroughs #newyork_ig New post up on the blog today highlights a few areas of interest near the "South Pole" of New York, including this little-known bus graveyard. 🏚🚌 (link in profile)
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I might not have been the first to discover this place, but it was new to me when I stumbled across it in May 2015.  I revisited a few times to capture it in different seasons, it's a beautiful scene any time of year.
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#abandoned #abandonedplaces #urbex #urbanexploration #graveyard #exploreeverything #nyc #statenisland #abandonedworld #seasons #snow #urbandecay #abandonednyc Disappearing into fog, from the Brooklyn side... Any Bay Ridgeites remember what used to be on these signs?

#verrazanobridge #verrazano #bayridge #brookyn #nyc #newyork #newyork_ig #newyorkcity #fog #foggy #moodygrams #water #longexposure #weather #nycprimeshot #bridgestagram Borough residents speak longingly of Staten Island before the opening of the Verrazano Bridge in 1964.
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Country roads meandered through sweeping forests, quiet beach communities, and open expanses of farmland crawling with nanny goats.
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The nature of the island was permanently altered as the bridge prompted a mass migration of newcomers from overpopulated Brooklyn.
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The influx covered farms and forests with mile upon mile of tract housing, plaguing the island with traffic problems that persist to this day.
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#newyork_ig #nycprimeshot #newyorknewyork #nyhistory #nyc #statenisland #bridgeporn #verrazanobridge #newyork #topnewyorkphoto #fiveboroughs #bridgestagram #underthebridge The city of New York took over the Staten Island Ferry in 1905 after a series of deadly disasters on privately-run lines. 🌊💀🔥 The 1871 "Westfield" disaster was the worst of them.  Nearly 100 passengers lost their lives when a boat's boiler exploded in its slip at Whitehall.  Jacob Vanderbilt, head of SI Railway at the time, was charged with murder, but never convicted.

More history up on the blog (🔗 in profile)

#newyorkcity #newyorknewyork #nyhistory #nychistory #statenisland #statenislandferry #nyharbor #staten #historynerd #nycprimeshot #newyork_ig #newyorkers Seagulls follow in the wake of the Staten Island Ferry. ⚓️ #statenisland #statenislandferry #nyc #newyorknewyork #topnewyorkphoto #nycprimeshot #newyorkcity @newyork_instagram
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