What did NPS divers find?


PATERSON — It seemed like a magic trick straight from a David Copperfield television special: For the past three days, Paterson’s 77-foot-high waterfall disappeared.

The waters that normally spill from the upper section of the Passaic River to the lower portion were diverted through the historic hydroelectric plant, allowing scuba divers to do something that had never been done — survey underwater at the bottom of the Great Falls.

“I realized the assets we have in the park system — including an archaeological dive team,” said Darren Boch, the national park’s superintendent, who went diving with the crew. “We want to have a better understanding of what’s under the falls and how deep it is.”

What did the divers find?

Dive teams from the National Park Service (NPS) conduct dive operations at The Paterson Great Falls in Paterson, NJ on Thursday Sept. 7, 2023. The goal of the dive to explore the waters above and below the Great Falls for archeological and public safety purposes. Water from the Passaic River was diverted away from the Falls and into the power plant so the dive team and boat could safely operate. Paterson Fire Department assisted the NPS.

In searching the bottom of the falls, the divers retrieved two firearms — one that is so rusted it was hard to identify the model. But they still had a full day of investigating left, said Dustin Gunderson, a U.S. park ranger and Search and Rescue Team leader. Both guns were reported to the city’s Police Department. 

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