Gowanus Canal: a watery grave

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Gowanus Canal may hold more than toxic chemicals and dead mobsters — it keeps numerous artifacts from its industrial past, according to Environmental Protection Agency archeologist John Vetter, who is leading a study to determine what’s stuck in the muck.

Sonar readings taken along Brooklyn’s filthy 1.8-mile waterway have already uncovered several sunken boats, including the 60-foot-long hull of a wooden working vessel, a small fiberglass boat, the hulls of 126-foot-long and 110-foot-long square-ended barges, a tree, large containers, and even a mysterious 7-by-3-foot “U-shaped object” of unknown composition, according to the agency.

The man-made waterway was built in the 1860s. Before that, it was a tidal creek.

In its heyday, the canal was a vital maritime and commercial artery on which raw materials and goods were transported to and from the array of chemical, paint and ink factories that dotted — and eventually polluted — the waterway.

Much of the brownstone used to build homes in tony neighborhoods such as Park Slope and Cobble Hill made their way to their destinations on barges floating up the canal....

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