By: Caitlin Doran
When the lake is drawn down five feet, we organize hundreds of volunteers to remove trash, tires, and debris from Lake Hopatcong’s 45 miles of shoreline at our Lake-wide Community Cleanup. It’s a great opportunity for active stewardship and data gathering, and it’s also a wonderful day for neighborhood camaraderie and sharing stories of fun clean-up finds! Here’s a selection of fun tails from Saturday’s clean-up:
Recreation equipment is not an unusual find at the lake-wide cleanup. We find sports balls, nets, paddles, even an entire swamped canoe in 2018. But we couldn’t help but giggle when Wildwood Shores’ youngest cleanup volunteer, Haley, unearthed a swimming fin and showed genuine concern for “the mermaid who lost her tail.” “It’s okay,” another volunteer, Bree, assured her. “Mermaids’ tails grow back!”
Two teams of volunteers, led by Trustees Jimmy Leffler and Linda Karpiak, swept the whole of the Bertrand Island peninsula and were rewarded for their labor with a cool find. In front of Liz Poskitt’s house, a volunteer named Dan found this “Beach Closed” sign, which historian Marty Kane agrees could very well be from the last days of the swimming beach at the amusement park.
Meanwhile, in the Woodport section of the lake, Michael Pabian was busy using his metal detector to see what treasures were hiding around his dock. His neighbor, Rob Jadach, asked Michael if he wouldn’t mind looking for his friend Michael Romanowski’s wedding ring, which he lost three and a half years prior. Within 10 minutes, Michael found the ring, along with a pair of prescription glasses his father lost near their dock a couple of years before.
Was not something Tony Kerrison, clad in chest waders, uttered while fishing for tires off his dock (well, not that we know of, anyway). Tony’s total catch for the day was 41 tires, which he single-handedly removed from the lake, with moral support from his wife Sharon and their two dogs.
Karen Fucito, the eagle-eyed editor of the Lake Hopatcong News, noticed the outline of a boat embedded in Landing Channel, just off the shoreline near Kingsland Road. It happened to be in the area where the old White Line steamboats were moored and then abandoned when they stopped running, circa 1907. Judging from the large size of the wreck and using old photos and issues of the Lake Hopatcong Breeze for reference, the hull is very likely the remains of one of these vessels! Lake Hopatcong historian Marty Kane theorizes that one of the steamboats sank and the hull was left to remain on the bottom when they conducted a clean-up of the old boats in the winter of 1909-1910. Marty continued that it was unlikely that any real study of the site could be conducted during the next six weeks, but the Lake Hopatcong Historical Museum would like to contact a few experts about ground penetrating radar or metal detection devices to see what else might be down in the muck! Stay tuned!
These are just some of the more interesting finds and stories from our big clean-up day! Do you have a fun find that you’d like to tell us about? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Do you want to support water quality efforts on Lake Hopatcong? You can make a donation HERE. And thank you again to all the volunteers who got down and dirty with us on November 4!