Cape May ‘ghost tracks’ reemerge following coastal storms

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Three nor’easter storms that have passed through New Jersey have unearthed an interesting attraction in southern New Jersey.

The Cape May “ghost tracks” are attracting people from all over the state to come to the beach bundled up for winter. Beach erosion from the storms has unearthed a length of railroad track that used to transverse the beach.

“The tracks are typically covered by sand and that’s why we called them the ghost tracks. They keep appearing and disappearing almost like a spirit,” says Cape May historian Harry Bellangy.

Bellangy says that whether or not the century-old tracks are visible depends on storm cycles and beach erosion.

Dozens of people have come from all over to see the tracks. Sara McCaffrey says that she is in New Jersey, visiting from Michigan.

“It’s interesting when history gets unearthed, especially by natural events like weather,” she says. “I think it makes it a little more exciting, like discovering something. It’s not always there, which kind of makes it unique.”

Bellangy says that the tracks were used during World War I by the Bethlehem Steel Company to test munitions. During World War II, the tracks were used to extract sand for glass manufacturing.

“The sand was lifted with clam shells into trucks…put on rail cars and sent north to the factories,” Bellangy says. “You get really high-quality sand for high-quality glass, which South Jersey is known for.”

The ghost tracks can be found about a mile away from Higbee Beach in Cape May during low tide. They will only be visible for a limited time before they are covered again by sand.

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