The Gowanus Canal famously emits a smorgasbord of potent, noxious stench, but did you know its gelatinous waters also conceal amazing artifacts from our nation's and New York City's past?

In 2011, sonar reading showed vessels at the bottom of the Gowanus, and now the NY Post reports that, as the Environmental Protection Agency dredges our city's favorite Superfund site, clean up crews have exhumed all sorts of historic trash from its depths: There's a World War II-era crash boat, an old-timey wagon wheel, and relics from the canal's textile mill days, all coated in toxic Gowanus sludge.

Having marinated for years to decades in the canal's digestive juices—activated by its consumption of Whole Foods, perhaps?—the historic value of said items remains dubious. But honestly, who cares about museum-quality contributions: Just imagine the palpable excitement, the suspense, the drama inherent in unearthing a hulking bit of mystery junk from Brooklyn's stinking maw, waiting with baited breath as a hazmat-suited worker water blasts the crud coat off to reveal—what's this, a giant spool? Turn-of-the-century construction equipment? A body?

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Metal wheel. (J. Bream)

According to the Post—which spoke with Jonathan Bream, an archaeologist with the Archaeology & Historic Resource Services who is helping to handle the recovered objects—the crew has not pulled up any corpses yet. But the cleaning process may not be as romantic as the one described above. Tyvek suits are a must, as is a hearty constitution. "When this stuff first comes out, it kind of has a... fecal-petroleum-musty smell that you have to have a good stomach to be around," Bream told the Post. "The grossest part of it... is when something accidentally falls in the drink and splashes you, because you'e not expecting it."

The "drink," for reference, has long served as a repository for raw sewage and waste from the homes and businesses stationed along its banks, leaving it preternaturally thick and oil-slicked and garbage-blanketed. The EPA designated the Gowanus canal a Superfund site in 2010, and dredging began in late 2017, churning up sediment and gross smells. Still, the agency says it's learned a lot in the course of its canal scooping.

"Tremendous progress has been made at this site, and what we are learning here will be applied to the overall cleanup of the Gowanus Canal," EPA Regional Administrator Pete Lopez said in a very optimistic emailed statement. "This pilot project is serving its purpose—to show us what works best and what may not work as well under real-world conditions as we move toward full-scale cleanup of this highly contaminated canal."

The pilot dredging on the Fourth Street Turning Basin is just coming to a close, the Post reports, and cleaners have salvaged the aforementioned crash boat— the "historical integrity" of which has been weakened by years of repurposing, according to a report on the find furnished by the EPA. Built in 1943, the boat first served to rescue pilots from water-bound wreckage in World War II and the Korean War. It then entered its second life stage as a Fire Island Ferry in 1963, before a second retirement in 1985 and a transition to private life as a houseboat in 1989. In the early aughts, it became a floating artist collective, and then host to LGBTQ parties as the Green Anchor Yacht, a.k.a. the "S.S. Gay." Legend has it, revelers set the craft on fire in 2009 and sent it to its watery grave, but that may just be local lore. In any case, the multiple renovations may have destroyed what was valuable about the vessel, at least from a historical perspective.

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Stamped brick. (J. Bream)

Other items in the haul include (but certainly are not limited to) a gantry crane from the late 19th century, spools and skeins from the Zobel Color Works textile mill, a bunch of old tires, some anchors, assorted wheels and ship parts, wooden beams, stamped bricks, and a ceramic kettle. If any of it winds up being preservation-worthy, the city will have to decide what to do with it.

The $506 million project will take years to complete, which means we may count on many more wonders ahead. As dredging moves forward, Bream keeps his fingers crossed for even older discoveries, but because the basin was built in the late 1800s, he's trying not to get his hopes up. Still, he said he would welcome a Revolutionary War cache. "It would be nice if we could find something, say, from that Battle of Brooklyn or from the Native Americans that were here," he told the Post, acknowledging that "there's a high probability that those objects won't exist."

Still, a girl can dream. Tell us in the comments what piece of garbage treasure you would be most excited to excavate from the Gowanus Canal.