Monday, May 4, 2009
The Hotel Train..."Really..."
I always refer to the fact that back in the day "labor was cheaper than wood." Folks in the nineteenth century moved buildings at the drop of a hat if the the sea threatened them. Labor was inexpensive and there were few obstructions such as overhead wires and lines. Most of the homes in my neighborhood in Cape May were moved from what was once South Cape May as the sea claimed more and more homes.
Today the town of South Cape May no longer exists. I was once told by an old timer that some crews were so good they could move a house 10 blocks with the dishes still in a built-in china cabinet and never break a dish or the plaster walls.
I am attaching an illustration of the Brighton Beach Hotel in 1888. It became apparent to the owners of the Coney Island landmark that the sea was undermining their hotel ( see the upper left hand corner ) and it had to be moved. During the winter of 1887-1888 six locomotives slowly pulled the behemoth hotel in specially laid tracks 600 feet to higher ground. ( The newspaper that produced the illustration did it in advance so they showed more locomotives than were actually used.) The move went so well that the hotel was open for business as usual that summer.