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240 Drown as The New Era Sinks off Deal Beach

On November 13, 1854, the New Era, a three-masted square-rigged commercial ship, was blown onto the shoals of Deal Beach in heavy weather. Efforts from nearby boats as well as wreck-masters from life-saving stations proved futile, with crew members saving themselves and abandoning passengers. Of the 415 who had embarked from Bremen, 132 survived, 240 drowned, and 43 died of cholera or injury before the ship reached America.

As with the John Minturn, this disaster provoked revulsion across a nation weary of the seeming futility of assisting vessels just out of reach of land. Additional funding came along, but would continue to be inadequate. In 1871, Congress appointed a supervisor who began the process of re-investing in life-saving services. In 1878, his efforts would lead to the passage of a new act that established the U.S. Life-Saving Service.

Only the anchor was recovered from the New Era; it is on display in front of the Allenhurst Historical Society in Allenhurst. The anchor is part of a historical monument in honor of Abner Allen, Allenhurst’s earliest settler, keeper of the local lifeboat house, and first rescuer to the scene of the shipwreck. The marker reads, “In solemn reverence of this disaster’s role in establishing the U.S. Lifesaving Service, known today as the U.S. Coast Guard. It is hoped that this memorial shall inspire a permanent and prominent appreciation of our local heritage.”

Click here to read about how Monmouth County’s wreck-masters helped save all but one from the doomed ship Ayrshire.

Click here to read about the evolution of the U.S. Life-Saving Service.


Bennett, Robert F., Bennett, Susan Leigh, & Dring, Timothy R. (2015). The Deadly Shipwrecks of the Powhattan & the New Era on the Jersey Shore. The History Press, Charleston, S.C., 2015.

Entertaining a Nation: The Career of Long Branch. (1940). The Writers’ Project, Works Projects Administration, State of New Jersey. The Jersey Printing Co., Bayonne, N.J., pp. 33-37.

2 thoughts on “240 Drown as The New Era Sinks off Deal Beach”

  1. Is the New Era the ship carrying German Immigrants that are memorialized in a plaque? I believe there is or was a club that honored those those that died. Do you know anyone that can speak about this shipwreck to the Atlantic Highlands Historical Society?
    Thank you

    1. Yes, the anchor which is all that survives from the New Era is on public display outdoors at the corner of Elberon and Norwood Avenues in Allenhurst where the plaque is as well. The New Era story takes place after the conclusion of the wreckers saga, and so I have not made it a big focus of my research, but others are studying this era who might be suitable. Let me revert to you privately and I’ll give you some names and see if we can hook you up.

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