A minor player in his own life story…

A year through the eyes of a journalist

Fire destroys home near site of former League Island Ferry

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I've had the following lyrics stuck in my head for a few days now. Somehow I feel like they fit with this picture I took: "Someone come and, someone come and save my life. Maybe I'll sleep when I am dead, but now, it's like the night is taking sides. With all the worries that occupy the back of my mind, could it be, this misery, will suffice?"

It’s safe to say that most people take crossing the Delaware River for granted. Washington did it in Durham boats as the waterway was ice choked more than 230 years ago. A good number of folks do it everyday via the four major bridges that connect Pennsylvania with New Jersey. They pay their $4 (or an equally sometimes hard-to-swallow PATCO fare) and are on their way to their destination.

Aside from the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, about the only way to get across the Delaware either than swimming was to take a ferry from one of the small towns on the Jersey side up until 1957 when the Walt Whitman Bridge opened.

League Island makes up what is the southernmost part of the old Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. The Navy eventually filled in the back channel behind League Island to increase the size of the base.

How does all this connect, you ask?

Well, at the end of Red Bank Avenue in West Deptford is the old League Island Ferry Co. site. There the Navy used to run a ferry back and forth between there and League Island so workers in South Jersey could get to work easier.

It has been years since ferries regularly zipped across the river, though the Delaware River Port Authority still operates the RiverLink at Camden. There was an old single-story house on the property that has been abandoned for years. Fire gutted it April 19.

Aside from the gravel parking lot and the small “League Island” sign on a telephone pole, there’s no indication of what was a vital link for the community. How many men went to work at the Navy Yard to support their young families?

Kind of sad when you think about it. It’s a scene that’s repeated far too often up and down the once-vibrant waterfront.

Thorofare Fire Company Firefighter Jim Kaiser puts down a hot spot as Firefighter William Kendig assists at a fire scene at the end of Red Bank Avenue Monday. Photo by Lucas K. Murray

I headed down Broad Street in Woodbury after the call went out on the scanner. Without really knowing the address other than Red Bank Avenue, I ran out the door. Luckily one of District 5’s Quint trucks went roaring by me, so I just followed it.

Managed to get stuck behind a soccer mom once the light turned, otherwise I would have had flame pics. One of the guys who lives with a scanner attached to his ear got some decent shots.

It was kind of surreal getting on-scene for this one. I parked my car a good way down from the river and ran up the street. The superstructure from the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy could be seen in the background as the smoke billowed up from the fire – almost like out of a war movie.

Verga Fire Company Chief Jeff Bilger talks over containment of a fire in an abandoned home at the end of Red Bank Avenue Monday with Woodbury Fire Chief Bill Volk. Photo by Lucas K. Murray

Here’s a link to the South Jersey Breaking News blog post.

Written by lucasmurray

April 20, 2010 at 2:44 am

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. I don’t usually reply to posts but I will in this case, great info…I will bookmark your site. Keep up the good work!

    Shery Giacomo

    April 26, 2010 at 4:56 pm


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