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Treasure Hunter's Diving Bell Graces His Former Inn Grounds

Mar 04, 2022

At the end of Ann Street off of South 5th Street in Harrison next to Library Park sits a pyramid-like steel structure. A plaque identifies it as the  Davis Diving Bell.  The Bell was once owned by Hiram Davis who owned and operated the Drover’s Inn located not far from where the Diving Bell is located today. 

Hiram Davis was a wealthy businessman who in addition to the Inn had a large home where Davis Avenue is located today.  Davis used the Diving Bell to raise and recover gold from the Steamship Lexington which sunk in the Hudson River. It is reported that the Lexington gold substantially increased his wealth.  The Drover’s Inn was used as a military headquarters during the Civil War.  Harrison became a place to stop on a journey in the day of horses and stagecoaches. Its accommodations attracted those with the means to pay for an overnight stay before continuing their trip.

The story of the Lexington is a tragic one.  The Lexington was a steamboat commissioned and owned by Cornelius Vanderbilt.   In 1837, the Lexington steamship was en route from New York City to Stonington, Connecticut, with its passengers' final destination by rail being Boston Massachusetts when a defect in its smokestack caused a fire that ultimately sunk the ship.  Of the 143 persons on board the steamship, only 4 survived.  The ship's cargo of cotton contributed to the inability of the crew to put out the fire.  Parts of the shipwreck are still at the bottom of the Long Island Sound.