Routine dredging of the Delaware for channel maintenance is not uncommon, but what was recently sucked from the water by a dredge is.
Three Revolutionary War artifacts in very good shape were pulled from the river near Fort. Mifflin recently. They were turned over to a thrilled Lee Anderson, the fort's executive director.
"They've gotten a lot of cannon balls, nothing like this ever. Knowing when they were used, and we know that pretty well, 230 years old," Anderson said.
They found a spike, a staple, and a cannonball.
The 125 pound spike, as a small display at Fort Mifflin's museum explains, was part of a cheval de frise or iron horse, a large square wooden box that was anchored by rocks with the iron spears protruding. The staple helped secure the box
"The cheval de frise was designed by Ben Franklin to go out into the river and obstruct against the British ships that were coming up trying to get supplies and men up to Philadelphia," Anderson said.
The cannonball dredged from the river is 24 pounds. It would require a pound and a half of gunpowder to discharge and came from a cannon a lot larger than anything on display at the museum.
Anderson believes the river probably holds a treasure trove of artifacts, but are probably crushed by dredges; not this time, though.
"To get something this unique and 3 separate items so connected at the same time is so very exciting," Anderson said.
Fort Mifflin is closed to tourists for the season, but there are special events including one on Friday called A Soldiers Christmas from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. and Anderson hopes to display these latest artifacts then.