Ship Bottom is one of the oldest place names on Long Beach Island.
According to the local historian John Bailey Lloyd, author of "Six Miles at
Sea," the name dates from an unusual shipwreck that occurred in March,
The captain of a schooner heading south was navigating through a thick fog
when he heard cries from the direction of the shoreline. Encountering a
schooner heading north, he alerted Captain Stephen Willets of Tuckerton that
there might be a ship in trouble near the shore. Although Willets and his
crew could see nothing in the fog , nor could they hear anything but the clang of
their own ship's bell, they rowed along the outer bar for several hours
searching for the endangered ship. Finally a dark shape appeared--the hull
of a ship overturned in the shoals. Corpses hung from the rigging and
bobbed in the frigid sea. As one of Willets' men climbed onboard the
beached schooner, he heard a noise under his feet--someone tapping the inside of
the barnacled hull.
With an ax, Willets chopped a hole in the ship's bottom near the keel and,
after much struggling, freed the young woman trapped inside. She spoke no
English. But after being taken ashore, she expressed her gratitude by
drawing a cross of thanks in the sand. No one knows her name or the name
of the ship because they were never recorded. But the place of the
shipwreck and the rescue became known as "Ship Bottom."
Ship Bottom became Life Saving Station #20 in 1872, and the first permanent
dwelling was established in 1898 by Captain Wesley Truex, keeper of the
station. A community rapidly grew up around the unit.
On January 10, 1910, the Italian bark Fortuna ran
aground on the 16th Street beach during a thick fog. The captain and
crew were rescued, but the ship capsized in the soft sand. The wrecked
Fortuna lay on its side on the Beach Arlington beach during most of 1910, until
it was cut up for salvage.
Eventually the towns of Bonnie Beach, Bonnet Beach, Edgewater
Beach, Beach Arlington and Ship Bottom collaborated to form the borough on May
25, 1925. The town was known as Ship Bottom-Beach Arlington until 1947 when the
name was changed to Ship Bottom.
The Borough of Ship Bottom
Ship Bottom is a Borough, a self-governing incorporated town
with a Borough Council form of government. The Governing Body consists of seven elected officials -- the Mayor and a
six-member Council. The Mayor is elected for a term of four years.
The three-year terms of the Council members are staggered. Each year two
Council seats are up for election. Each Council member chairs a committee
that oversees a department: Revenue and Finance; Public Safety;
Water/Sewer; Parks and Recreation; Public Property and Community Affairs; and
Ship Bottom Water Tower is pictured at right. Sunset Point, a beautiful garden located
between 13th and 16th streets, is pictured at left. The facility has a playground for children, restrooms, a
beach area and the Ede Kahl Gazebo.
of Ship Bottom Municipal Code Book