July 16,  2010

Historic shipwreck in Corolla will travel down the
highway to Hatteras Museum on July 1



After lying hidden under sand and water for centuries, a recently discovered and very historically important North Carolina shipwreck will soon be on the move again, heading south via Highway 12 from Corolla to the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras.

The museum announced that plans have been set to move the 12-ton wooden structure on Monday, July 19, beginning around 10 p.m.

According to Claire Aubel, public relations coordinator for the North Carolina Maritime Museums, the 90-mile trip is expected to take five to six hours.

The shipwreck is being moved from its current location near the Currituck Beach Lighthouse to the highway by Barnhill Contracting. It will be moved from Corolla to Hatteras village on a flatbed truck with drivers being provided by the National Park Service.
 
On the four-lane U.S. 158 through the northern beaches, vehicles will be able to pass around the shipwreck. However on two-lane portions of the highway in Currituck County and on Hatteras Island, including the trip over the Bonner Bridge, the highway will be closed at times by law enforcement officials for the move.
 
Dare County Sheriff Rodney Midgett urges drivers on Highway 12 after 10 p.m. to be cautious.  As the truck makes it way down the highway, motorists may be directed to get off onto the shoulder so it can pass.  In a few places, the highway will be temporarily shut down. ( For information or questions concerning the move and traffic on Highway 12, contact the Dare County non-emergency line, 252-473-3444.)

“This is quite possibly the oldest shipwreck to be discovered in North Carolina,” said North Carolina Maritime Museums Director Joseph Schwarzer. “Saving this crucial piece of national history has taken a massive amount of effort. We appreciate the collaboration and the support of the public as we make this move.”

The 17-foot-wide by 37-foot-long wreckage was exposed by winds and tides in late 2008. In April, archaeologists and volunteers were able to move the frame onto higher ground so it wouldn’t be washed away.  Once they got a closer look at the structure, and talked to the local residents that found the site, they realized it could the most noteworthy beach-find to date in the state.

“We met some people who had been looking at this wreck, relic collectors or  beachcombers, who showed us artifacts they found in the vicinity, some in very close association with the shipwreck, that date back  to the mid-1600s,” deputy state archaeologist Richard Lawrence said. “There are coins from the reign of Louis XIII in France and Charles I in England, lead bale seals, and spoons that all date back to that period. So we realized that this is a very significant site.”

Ten solid oak frames, 18-inch wide oak planks and the nearly sole usage of wooden pegs as fasteners give the picture of what may be a mid-1600s merchant ship.

To date, the oldest shipwreck discovered along the state’s coast is the flagship of Blackbeard the pirate, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, which sank in 1718. This wreck was located in November, 1996 by Intersal, Inc., with information provided to operations director Mike Daniel and by company president, the late Phil Masters.

Many people have partnered with Cultural Resources archaeologists and Maritime Museum system professionals to save the rare piece of national maritime history, including Meghan Agresto of the Outer Banks Conservationists, Inc.; Jim Trogdon, Sterling Baker, and Tammy Denning of the North Carolina Department of Transportation; state Sen. Marc B
asnight, D-Dare; department secretary Linda Carlisle;  Mark Cooney of North Carolina Division of Cultural Resources Construction Office; Tony Pearce of Barnhill Contracting Company, and Doug Stover and Doug Blackman with the National Park Service.

Additional agencies and groups include Currituck County Commissioners, Corolla Fire and Rescue, Currituck County Sheriff’s Office, Dare County Sheriff’s Office, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources Office of State Archaeology, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, and the Friends of the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum.

The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum plans to put the shipwreck on exhibit as soon as possible, so the public can watch and learn as archaeologists continue their analysis. With luck, they’ll be able to pinpoint a more exact date and possibly identify the ship.

“For anyone interested in history, in shipwrecks or the maritime mysteries of the area, this is an absolute must-see artifact,” said Schwarzer. “It is unique, it is of enormous importance, and it could easily become a central point of destination for maritime and the broader cultural traveler.”

North Carolina’s Outer Banks are no stranger to shipwrecks, with thousands scattered along the coast. But, it is rare to find the remains of older, wooden vessels still intact in the dynamic ocean and beach environments.

And this will be the first actual shipwreck located at the museum, which displays many artifacts from the Graveyard of the Atlantic.


FOR MORE INFORMATION

For more information on the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum visit  www.graveyardoftheatlantic.com or call 252-986-2995. Museum hours are Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., and admission is free.

Also see a story on the museum, its exhibits, and its schedule of programs on Island Free Press at http://islandfreepress.org/2010Archives/06.11.2010-ShipwreckMuseumHasSomeNewExhibitsAndPrograms.html



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