We recently got a lead on one of these stories from reader Greg Parson, who commented on our story about New Jersey Aviation Hall of Famer Ed Gorski and the Lincoln Park Airport. Among his reminiscences about Gorski and the field, he mentioned that his uncle, George Lambros, had operated a seaplane base in Little Ferry.
A seaplane base? On the Hackensack River? With our friends from Hackensack Riverkeeper, we'd cruised up the river in August, enjoying the rebirth of the Meadowlands punctuated with occasional stories of past and present commerce on the river, but I couldn't recall hearing anything about aircraft. Had I missed something?
Indeed, when I mentioned it to friends on Facebook, several confirmed that two bases were operational at the location at some point in the past 40 years. One friend even noted that she used to watch the takeoffs when she was growing up in Ridgefield.
Greg kindly got back to me with some additional information, including an address and the observation that the current Little Ferry Seaplane Base is actually across the river from the original Lambros property, which was in Ridgefield Park. The Little Ferry location had once been the home to a famed restaurant called Tracey's Nine Mile House, which apparently served an amazing sliced steak sandwich.
|Depending on your perspective, this is either the Hackensack River |
or Runway 01-19 of Little Ferry Seaplane Base.
Lambros didn't have a monopoly on that stretch of the Hackensack, with Mellor-Howard Seaplane Base operating nearby. The Hackensack Riverkeeper himself, Bill Sheehan, also informed us that another seaplane port operated farther upriver, at Carlstadt. Now the site of River Barge Park and Marina, the former Sky Harbor was also a training location for water-heading pilots during World War II.
Look for more recent information about the Little Ferry operation, and you're up for a difficult search, especially if you attempt to find the seaplane base itself. At least two owners have operated the base since Lambros, but I couldn't find the date when it moved across the river from Ridgefield Park to Little Ferry. Several sources, including the Federal Aviation Administration website, list it as an active base, with two operations reported in 2012 (I'm assuming that's one landing and one takeoff, but I could be wrong). However, when Ivan and I visited the site recently, all we could find was a closed restaurant (perhaps the successor to Tracey's), a dock that appears to have seen better days, and no evidence of aircraft whatsoever. To be fair, the area was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. Across the river, the former site of the Lambros base is occupied by a large industrial building.
Needless to say, we'll be doing a bit more research on this fascinating aspect of the Hackensack River. Meanwhile, if you're in the area and see an amphibious airplane coming in for a landing, let us know!