I was crossing the Bayonne Bridge a few years ago with a group led by Mitch Waxman of the Newtown Pentacle, who takes a special interest in area waterways and the boats that work them, when the Thomas D. Witte tugboat churned past. The Witte was constructed in 1961 by the Valentine Oil Company and was then called the Valoil, but has changed hands several times since then; by 2009 it was owned by the Donjon Marine Company — formerly the John Witte Marine Equipment Company.
Where had I head the Witte name before? The answer was simple. The Wittes owned the Rossville Ship Graveyard, an indentation in the Arthur Kill several miles southwest of the Bayonne Bridge, that has captured the imagination of NYC seekers of the atmospheric and the eldritch for decades. The Wittes eventually brought more than 400 vessels to the remote redoubt, eventually hoping to salvage some of them, but ultimately some sunk and others were towed away after rusting for years.