Staten Island boat graveyard

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The graveyard photographed in 1973

The Staten Island boat graveyard is a marine scrapyard located in the Arthur Kill in Rossville, near the Fresh Kills Landfill on the northern shore of Staten Island, New York. The place has been recognized as an official dumping ground for old wrecked tugboats, barges and decommissioned ferries. It is known by many other names including the Witte Marine Scrap Yard, the Arthur Kill Boat Yard, and the "Tugboat Graveyard." Its official name as of 2014 is the Donjon Iron and Metal Scrap Processing Facility.[1]


The scrapyard was founded in the 1930s by John J. Witte and managed by him until his death in 1980. It was then taken over by his son-in-law, Joe Coyne, who described it as similar to an automobile salvage yard, with the boats serving as a source of parts to sell.[2] It is now managed by John Witte's son Arnold. It contains about 100 boats and ships, down from an earlier high of 400.[3]

The site[edit]

The abandoned and decomposing vessels, mostly cargo ships and tugboats, come from "all decades of the 20th century".[4] They sit in the mud and shallow water until they are dismantled or salvaged. Some of them are historic, so that the place has been called an "accidental marine museum".[1] Vessels of historic interest include the submarine chaser USS PC-1264, the first World War II US Navy ship to have a predominantly African-American crew; and the New York City Fire Department fireboat Abram S. Hewitt, which served as the floating command post at the 1904 sinking of the passenger ferry PS General Slocum, a disaster that killed more than a thousand people.[4][5]

The site is hard to reach and posted with "No trespassing" signs.[5] Nevertheless, visitors do come. Marine historians explore the area via boats or kayaks. The decaying ships are a popular subject for photographers and artists.[3][6] The place, because of its eerie environment, has become a tourist attraction,[1] despite its remote location and difficult accessibility via "a makeshift path of street signs and wood planks into muddy marshland and to the edge of the water where the boats are visible."[7]


A documentary, Graves of Arthur Kill, was filmed in 2012.[5][8][9] Scenes from the 2010 thriller Salt were filmed on site.[10][11]


  1. ^ a b c Mathias, Christopher (4 July 2014). "The Bizarre Attraction That Is New York City's Boat Graveyard". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 25 January 2016.
  2. ^ Meyers, Keith (December 31, 1990). "A Lesson In History Of Old Ships". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 January 2016.
  3. ^ a b "The Witte Boneyard: A Different Kind of Graveyard". WNYC. 30 October 2010. Retrieved 25 January 2016.
  4. ^ a b "Sea of Dead Ships". Forgotten New York. January 27, 2010. Retrieved 28 January 2016.
  5. ^ a b c Koerner, Brendan (July 16, 2015). "The Secret NYC Graveyard Where Ships Go to Die". Wired. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  6. ^ "The Boatyard - Shaun O'Boyle". Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  7. ^ Rizzi, Nicholas (21 March 2014). "History of Staten Island's Boat Graveyard Explored in Documentary". DNAinfo New York. Archived from the original on 4 February 2016. Retrieved 25 January 2016.
  8. ^ "Graves of Arthur Kill". 3 Fish Productions. Retrieved 31 March 2016.
  9. ^ "See the eerie graveyard of WWII-era ships off N.J. coast (VIDEO)". Retrieved 31 March 2016.
  10. ^ "The History of Donjon Recycling". Archived from the original on 8 September 2015. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  11. ^ "Salt (2010)". IMDB. Retrieved 31 May 2018.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°33′20″N 74°12′57″W / 40.555503°N 74.215738°W / 40.555503; -74.215738