In early November of 2014, a colossal storm wreaked havoc on the New Jersey Atlantic Coast, taking layers of sand with it. This event revealed a forgotten artifact on the beach that had been hidden for years, a piece of history encapsulated in the sand: two pairs of train tracks dating back to the early 1900s.
Several times a year, during low tide, visitors to New Jersey’s Sunset Beach can see two out-of-place sets of 100-year-old railroad tracks, a remnant of the time when the beach was used for industry and not tourism.
The first track, located near the Cape May Canal, is believed to have been built during World War One, leading to a munitions proving ground where Sunset Beach’s sand and water were used to test the concussion and power of a shell. The facility was used by Russia, France, and England and is the reason that duds (unexploded munitions) often can be found on the beach.
The second set of tracks are believed to date back further, to 1908, when they were used by the Cape May Sand Company to haul sand from the beach to the glass factories in the town. Some suspect that the tracks were also used to transport some of the sand used in the locks of the Panama Canal.
The two pairs of tracks on Sunset Beach are located about half a mile north of the main beach area, and during low tide, they provide visitors with the ultimate century-old scavenger hunt.