Very early on Sunday morning November 17, 2019, during gale force winds, a barge moored in the Chesapeake Bay pulled loose and crashed into the Buckroe Beach Pier, collapsing sections of the pier near the shore. The 80-foot-long barge, carrying a large construction excavator, also seriously damaged the attached building that houses restrooms, a snack bar, and a bait shop. The photo above, looking south, is from the Southside Daily of Nov. 18, 2019.
This second picture, taken by freelancer Mike Caudill, appeared in the Daily Press article "Buckroe Fishing Pier Collapse" published Nov. 18, 2019. The barge, owned by Coastal Design & Construction, located in Gloucester, VA, had a $2.3 million contract with Hampton Public Works to dredge and make other improvements to Salt Pond Inlet (Matt Jones, "With help of tugboats," Daily Press, Nov. 19, 2019.) That is probably why it had been moored in the Bay.
The above photo, also taken on November 17, is from the Hampton, VA Government's Facebook page. Here we get a close view of the other side of the pier, showing part of the back of the barge, with pieces of the pier being pulled away by it. The building is also being damaged, which is made clearer in later photographs. Fortunately, no one was hurt in this accident; the few people on the pier were evacuated before the barge got there.
Photo 4 (above), taken by Rob Ostermaier of the Daily Press, is also from the DP article "Buckroe Fishing Pier Collapse." A tugboat based in Gloucester, The Capt. Dale, showed up at the beach around noon to move the barge but had problems, including getting stuck on a sandbar. Three men in a jon boat were sent instead to the barge, to connect a tow line from the barge to the tug. As the above photo shows, that was no easy task. Wind, water and tide combined to cause a change in plans.
The decision was made to wait until the next day (Monday) to connect the runaway barge to The Capt. Dale. Two large excavators (photo below) were moved to the beach to serve as temporary anchors for the barge, and after much difficulty, the tow line was connected to them. (Matt Jones, "With help")
At this point in the day, the beach was filled with Hampton police and fire department personnel, who not only had major chores to deal with but additional problems with a growing audience on foot and in vehicles. And news people and photographers were showing up from all over. The above photo, for example, was taken by someone from WFMY News, based in Greensboro, N.C.
Monday morning, November 18, the weather was still blustery, as shown in the picture above. Though tethered to the excavators on shore, the wayward barge was still being knocked about by high surf. The full title of the November 19, 2019 Daily Press article by Matt Jones (cited in this article as "With help of tugboats,") summarizes that day's hard task-- "With help of tugboats, rope, a pickup truck and a fishing pole, the barge that wrecked Buckroe pier finally freed"--around 2:50 p.m. The hardest part had been connecting the barge to The Capt. Dale.
This last photo, from the Buckroe Fishing Pier Facebook page, shows the severe damage to the pier and the building, both of which lost (among other things) concrete pilings. Built in 2009, to replace the pier destroyed in 2003 by Hurricane Isabel, this pier is still relatively new and the cost of repairing it could be quite high. The time needed to complete that work could be many months. The money lost while the pier is closed could be a very large amount.
Will Coastal Design & Construction, the company that owns the barge, have to pay for some or all of the repair? The weather played a major role in this accident, but maybe so did the company. I expect lawyers and judges will eventually play roles in this drama. There will be many questions to ask. For example--Was the barge adequately moored ? Notice that the two tall metal poles attached to the barge are in the up position--not lowered. If they had been lowered, they might have helped anchor the barge when it was moored. These are stabilizing poles.
We have recently featured various aspects of the subject park in this space. We would be remise if we did not feature the amazing roller coaster. There are not many wooden roller coasters left. The one that was at Buckroe, originally built in 1897 and surviving until the demolition of the park in 1987, was surely a highlight of many of our childhoods. I've included a bunch of pictures below to refresh your memory of "how is was".
I am looking for pictures of the Amusement Park lunch counter that bordered the beach road and faced the fenced-in bandstand. Also am looking for pictures of the bandstand. If you have some personal photoes of these, we would greatly appreciate you contacting us. Thanks!!!
Photos courtesy of the Daily Press and David Spriggs
Appeared on December 19, 2011
Buckroe Amusement Park Carousel Earlier this week we featured the Buckroe Miniature Lighthouse in this space. The other surviving artifact from the Amusement Park is of course the Carousel which currently resides beside the Virginia Air and Space Museum. If anyone knows of additional surviving artifacts, please let me know. Photos courtesy of David Spriggs
Appeared December 15, 2011
Miniature Lighthouse - Buckroe Amusement Park
Perhaps the only thing left in Buckroe of the Buckroe Amusement Park (with the exception of many fine memories) is the Miniature Lighthouse. I did not know the lighthouse had survived until this summer when I performed at the Buckroe waterfront park with Fat Ammon's Band. It is located to the right of the stage area about 70 feet away. Do you know any of the ladies in the picture?
Photo courtesy of David Spriggs
Appeared December 12, 2011
So far in this space, we have featured things that have experienced change over the years. It occurred to me as I was looking for material to fill this space tonight, that one pass time from our Decade that appears to not have changed is Bumper Cars. On a recent trip to Busch Gardens with my grandkids, a visit to the Bumper Cars could have well looked the same 50 years ago with possibly one exception: safety straps. I cannot remember is there were safety straps in the Buckroe days, but I doubt that there were. As I remember, the real difference here was the guy at Buckroe that had a distinct, low-pitched and slightly harsh voice who ran the Bumper Cars at Buckroe for years. He always repeated the safety speech before each session exactly the same way and in the same tone of voice. My friends and I memorized the speech and would try to imitate the original...all part of the fun from that era.
Photo courtesy of David Spriggs
Appeared December 8, 2011
Buckroe Amusement Park looking towards the bay
Hurricane Gladys - September 1964 Buckroe Beach
In the '60s before the Buckroe Beach Front was rennovated, a row of house stood right on the beach just a short distance from the Buckroe Beach Amusement Park. Hurricane Gladys caused quite a bit of damage in that area in the fall of 1964. I found these pictures in an old album today and it reminded me that there were actually shops, eating (and drinking) establishments and a bath house right on the beach just down from the Amusement Park.