A beachcomber recently noticed an odd looking piece of wood sticking out of the sand on Cumberland Island, a federally protected wilderness area. Alerting authorities, archeologists examining the boat's remains believe it was constructed in the mid-1800s.
Last week a remarkable find was made on Cumberland Island, located in Georgia, by an individual walking along the beach. The passer-by saw an unusual piece of wood sticking out of the sand. Realizing it did not look like ordinary driftwood, the beachcomber alerted local park rangers.
According to 11 Alive News, archeologists came and examined the wood and unearthed an 80-foot fragment of an old shipwreck, almost completely buried.
Archeologist Michael Seibert believes the boat had been built in the mid-1800s due to the style of its construction. However, when it sailed and why it was there is a total mystery. According to the Associated Press (via Huffington Post), there are several theories said experts. These include it serving as a supplier to southern plantation owners or maybe as a Confederate blockade runner.
There are "a lot of possibilities", said Seibert. "This has been a high-traffic area ever since the Spanish and the British started colonizing."
Cumberland Island is an area only reachable by boat and has a rich history dating back thousands of years. Previously owned by millionaire Thomas Carnegie, the island was donated to the federal government in 1972. Currently, it is preserved as a federally protected wilderness area, although many people still call the 40-square-mile island home.
Described as "elusive", archeologists could find no identifying factors that would help them learn the history of this wreck. After investigating the wooden boat, documenting the details and taking some samples, the archeologists reburied the boat in order to preserve it and keep its location secret so it remains undisturbed.
Now the experts are looking to do some extensive research to see if they can't find a connection to a boat that had been lost; they'll reportedly check maps, old newspaper clips, ship records, and insurance records. Additionally, carbon dating will be done and researchers will also try and see if they can identify what kind of tree the wooden beam was constructed from.
“There was an awful lot of Civil War military traffic along the coast (with) many smaller vessels that were all about stealth and speed,” Chris McCabe, the deputy archaeologist for the state of Georgia, told the Atlantic Journal-Constitution. “We can’t say definitively that it’s a blockade runner, and we may never be able to say definitively, but it’s an absolute possibility.”
It is believed the rest of the boat is likely somewhere underneath the sea and that this large fragment was washed up in a storm decades ago.
“It’s like detective work,” said McCabe, who works out of the state’s underwater archaeological field station in Savannah, reported AJC. “You piece together all the little pieces from the scene. It’s like CSI.”
Screen shot of image taken of shipwreck found buried on Georgia's Cumberland Island