Enigmatic 150-Year-Old Shipwreck Unearthed Near Florida Bridge

An enigmatic shipwreck, believed to be from the 1800s and containing several intriguing artifacts, has been uncovered near a bridge in Florida.

Quick Facts

  • Discovery Location: The shipwreck was found near the Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine, buried under 8 to 10 feet of sediment.
  • Artifacts Found: Among the items discovered onboard were leather shoes, coins dating back to 1869, coconut halves used as cups, and a fragment of an oil-fired lantern.
  • Origins: The ship is believed to be vernacular, suggesting it was constructed locally for domestic use, and its artifacts have helped in dating it to the 19th century.

The shipwreck, measuring 20 feet in length, was found during construction works near the Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine. The Florida Department of Transportation reported the discovery, noting that the shipwreck was almost completely intact. Ian Pawn, an archeologist at the Florida Department of Transportation, expressed surprise at the find, stating that there was no prior indication of the vessel’s presence in the area.

Further investigations revealed that the ship was buried under layers of sediment and subsequent developments in St. Augustine, such as the extension of the seawall and parts of an early 20th-century trolley station. Interestingly, a large palm wood piling had been driven through the vessel, suggesting that its existence was unknown even in the later parts of the 19th century or the early 20th century.

While the ship’s deck and hull were mostly well-preserved, no mast was found, leading archeologists to believe it was a sailing boat. The vessel’s vernacular nature indicates it was likely built using local materials for domestic purposes. The artifacts discovered, especially the leather shoes designed distinctly for the left and right feet (a 19th-century innovation), have been instrumental in dating the ship. Currently,efforts are underway to stabilize the vessel, with Pawn emphasizing the urgency due to the drying wood initiating the decay process.

For Further Reading Vernacular Ships: Vernacular ships refer to vessels built using local materials and techniques, tailored to the specific needs and conditions of their region. These ships are often constructed for domestic use and may not have the same design or features as ships built for long voyages or trade. The discovery of the shipwreck in Florida being vernacular suggests it was used for local purposes and provides insights into the maritime practices of the 19th century in the region. [Wikipedia]


Where was the shipwreck discovered?
The shipwreck was discovered near the Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine, Florida.

What artifacts were found on the ship?
Artifacts such as leather shoes, coins from 1869, coconut halves used as cups, and a part of an oil-fired lantern were found onboard.

How old is the shipwreck believed to be?
The shipwreck is believed to date back to the 1800s, based on the artifacts found and its vernacular construction.

Original article source: Newsweek

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