Sunday, January 01, 2006

Mysterious 'Alligator' mound in Rancocas Creek may really be oil drum


Courie Post
December 15, 2005

RIVERSIDE -- Could Alligator Jr. just be an old oil drum?

A small expedition out to the site of a mysterious mound on Wednesday turned up no evidence that the prototype of the U.S. Navy's first combat submarine rests in the mud along Rancocas Creek.

An expert with a metal detector took readings of the cylindrical mound, shaped tantalizingly like the submarine, but turned up only a small anomaly, according to Alice Smith, archivist for the Riverside Historical Society.

"Well, there will be no submarine in my stocking for Christmas," Smith wrote in an e-mail to followers of her search for the submarine. "I wish I could say we were keeping a secret but our mound is probably just an iron drum."

The group, however, plans to continue its search. Smith did not return calls for further comment.

After examining historical accounts and records, Smith developed the theory that the inventor of the 32-foot-long submarine, Brutus de Villeroi, abandoned the prototype along the Rancocas at the beginning of the Civil War when the Navy commissioned him to build a full-scale submarine in Philadelphia.

That submarine, the U.S.S. Alligator, saw limited action before sinking off North Carolina while being towed during a storm. A U.S. Navy-led team is searching the Atlantic for that wreck.



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