Lifeguards Jon Van Duinwyk (left) and Tex Ribera talk with Britt Greenlee about the discovery of an historic anchor that now rests in the garden outside the lifeguard station just south of the Santa Monica Pier. (photo by Brandon Wise)

SM BAY — Lifeguard Andrew Greger was making a routine training dive near Will Rogers State Beach three weeks ago when he spotted something out of the ordinary — a giant anchor.

While finding an anchor at the bottom of the ocean is nothing new for the rescue boat captain, this anchor is believed to be at least 100 years old, a relic from the days when the area was a major shipping port.

Greger, a 20-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Fire Department, was about two miles up the coast from the Santa Monica Pier when he made the discovery. The anchor now rests in a garden at the county lifeguard station on Ocean Front Walk.

“It’s not every day you find something like that,” Greger said Thursday. “When I saw it, I thought, ‘Wow, that’s really cool.’”

On Tuesday, with the help of a few 55-gallon drums to raise it to the surface and a tractor from City Hall’s beach maintenance crew to drag it onto the sand, the anchor, which resembles an old Admiralty anchor, was pulled from its resting place, giving lifeguards a chance to get a closer look.

The anchor, which was covered with rust, seaweed and barnacles, weighs in around 300 to 500 pounds, Greger estimates, and is 6 feet wide and 6 feet tall.

Lifeguards normally don’t spend time excavating, but the anchor provided a good training scenario, said Greger, who is called on to raise downed airplanes.

The discovery occurred around the former site of the Southern Pacific Railroad Long Wharf, a shipping center that served Southern California from 1892 to 1913.

The Long Wharf, also known as Port Los Angeles, was built by railroad tycoon Collis Huntington. At the time, it was the world’s largest and became a tourist attraction. Huntington wanted to make Santa Monica the region’s main port, but Los Angeles city leaders eventually chose San Pedro.

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