A rusted wooden and iron item was on display for 20 years in a small museum in Park Ridge, New Jersey. The Spanish-American War was started in 1898 when the USS Maine exploded in Havana harbor, according to a little sign that claimed it was "purported" to be a piece of the mast from that ship.
The worn, three-foot spar, which had saw marks on one end, was allegedly found at a nearby garage sale and later presented to the Pascak Historical Society. Nobody could recall who gave it to them or their name. Most people in the museum questioned its authenticity.
Two years ago, Christopher Kersting pondered the veracity of the story as he regarded the exhibit case. The retired history teacher, who intended to work as a docent at the museum, made the decision to research it. Kersting set out on his mission to learn as much as he could with Beuscher's blessing.
From Garage To Museum
Peter McSherry, the online editor for a Spanish-American War history website, was the person Kersting originally approached. McSherry advised getting in touch with the U.S. Navy, which responded by saying it would send Kersting's images and data to Arlington National Cemetery, the military cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, where the USS Maine Memorial is located.
The USS Maine's aft, or rear, mast was taken out of the submerged ship during salvage operations, and it arrived in Arlington in 1912 where it was mounted on a granite base for the monument honoring the 261 sailors and Marines who perished in the explosion. The majority of them are interred at the memorial on Sigsbee Drive, which bears Capt. Charles Dwight Sigsbee's name because he oversaw the ship and survived the catastrophe.