Dead Horse Bay

The whole reason we dipped down into New York after Maine was Dead Horse Bay. I have wanted to go to this beach for oh so long! While planning the trip and looking for fun things to do along the way I thought “Hmm, I wonder how much time Dead Horse Bay would add to the drive?” Mapping everything out showed that it really wouldn’t add any more time but would simply take us a different route home which is always ideal anyway. I asked Jeff what he thought and since he’s basically down for anything, he agreed it’d be an awesome stop.

The original plan was to hit the beach around sunset on Sunday evening but we spent too much time geocaching and goofing around in Boston. (Totally worth it!) It started to pour the rain down, and I highly highly hiiiighly underestimated what a mess New York City traffic is. So needless to say getting to the beach in time for a beautiful sunset didn’t happen.

I was feeling pretty defeated by the city and how incredibly difficult it is to get around by car. I know, everyone else in the world is like “duhhh!” but I’m used to Cleveland’s easy breezy traffic. I basically sat in the car with my eyes closed while Jeff thoroughly enjoyed the aggressive driving style you have to take on. I honestly didn’t know if we’d make it to Dead Horse Bay at all just because of time constraints and how long it was taking to get around.

I was overjoyed to finally get to the parking lot, gear up in my brand new rubber boots, and start hiking toward the beach. We walked down a road that said it was for those with fishing permits only. The beach was in sight but the second we stepped on to it I knew we were in the wrong spot. Too clean. It was hot, and despite it not being a terribly long walk, both Jeff and I were pooped out. I groveled “We can just leave if you want. It’s not a big deal.”

While we walked back to the car I did a little bit more looking around online for details on where exactly the beach is. We eventually realized we had to cross the road to get to it. There was mention of a wooded trail which we found right away once on the correct side of the road. What everyone failed to mention was the mosquitoes. You guys, I grew up in the country, I am no stranger to mosquito bites. But I have never in my life been bitten SO many times. At any given moment there would be at least six of them biting. It was hell. I was nearly in tears. Yeah, they were that bad. I felt like the path would never end. I couldn’t understand how we hadn’t reached the water yet. We eventually emerged from the woods, the mosquitoes cleared, and it was everything I had hoped it would be!

Dead Horse Bay, New York City

So, Dead Horse Bay, what the heck is it? One yelp user calls it “an abomination!” Another says “Disgusting! Fascinating! Free souvenirs!” I’m on the side of the second person. In the nineteenth century the area was home to a few horse rendering plants. The harbor was used as a dumping ground for the chopped up bones which would wash up on shore. Later the marsh was used a landfill which quickly filled up and needed to be sealed. Eventually, in the 1950s, that cap broke. Since then garbage has been spewing into the ocean and washing up on shore. The beach is covered in bottles, many of which are completely intact, and tons of other random items that have a hard time decomposing, like soles of shoes. There are even a few abandoned boats! Sooo, it’s basically a trash beach …and it’s amazing.

My time at Dead Horse Bay was short but I loved every second. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea but this place is exactly my style. I could have poked around for days! It’s an absolute treasure trove. When it comes right down to it, it’s trash, but it’s trash that’s full of history. Many of the bottles were from products no longer manufactured! It breaks my heart that I didn’t have more time to spend there.

I made sure my camera bag was full of other random empty bags for all the treasures I might find. I didn’t know what I’d end up leaving with but I knew there was no way I’d come away from here empty handed. Surprisingly, my pile of loot was fairly small. I brought home four small bottles, two pieces of pottery, a claw, and a shell. My favorite of the bunch is a little brown bottle that has taken on a new shape. I definitely let out an audible noise of approval when I realized it wasn’t broken at all.

If I lived nearby you know darn well that I’d have all sorts of little arrangements of bottles set up around the area. I honestly can’t believe that there weren’t any along the large pieces of driftwood or in the abandoned boats. Apparently from time to time the trees in the area have bottles strung up in them but sadly, I didn’t see any.

New York City, I will be back! I will explore you properly and I will love you. Dead Horse Bay, I already love you. I cannot wait to come back and hunt for more treasures.

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  • I was born 30 minutes away from there and grew up an hour from that beach but never made it there. We lived (and some of my family still does) at Jones Beach. Maybe when I go back to visit I can talk my brother into taking me here. It is funny, when you live in New York you never go anywhere but when you move away and come back you go everywhere. New York has a million cool places. My dad lives across the street from an entire abandoned mental health hospital in Kingspark, LI. It is an urbex dream.

  • Oh this is so cool, I could spend the whole day just looking around for little trinkets imagine all the tings you could potentially find. Though the mosquito don't sound fun, I remember getting bitten all over my feet a couple months back and oh my gosh I have never been so itchy in my life bites on toes are a no <3

    The Quirky Queer

  • Wow this place looks so cool! I was pretty bummed that I didn't find ANY beach glass on my beach trip last month.. Looks like I need to plan a trip to dead horse bay, it seems like my kinda place!

  • So happy you got to Dead Horse Bay! I'm surprised about the mosquitoes, but before I went the first time we were so afraid of ticks that we sprayed ourselves from head to toe and when we got there found that the path was mowed and totally not as wild as we had expected haha. I always grab so much when I'm there and then pare WAY down before I go home, otherwise my apt would look like a 19th century trash beach by now too.

  • Waaargh. I live in bklyn. I dragged my husband and then-4-year-old son on a mission to find dead horse bay. It was 90 degrees out and I was 8 months pregnant. We turned back after wandering alongside that damn road for too long. Not my finest moment. I gotta go back (solo) one day!!

  • Love hearing of your adventure to DHB. I am a regular there and if I ever see you when you come back I will be sure to say hey, Your photos are lovely. I know what you mean about the mosquitoes. I have so many treasures from there if you ever want to see some photos of my finds let me know.