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19th-Century Shipwreck Emerges Centuries After It Sank – But No One Knows Its History

Source: Corey Purchase The Canadian Press / Facebook/Anne Osmond

Imagine walking down your favorite beach when you suddenly stumble across a giant, ghostly, 24-meter-long shadow in the water. It’s not moving, but you’re scared to go near it. So, you grab your binoculars to get a closer look, and that’s when you realize what you’ve found – it’s a shipwreck!

21-Year-Old Discovers Shipwreck In Newfoundland

Meet Gordon Blackmore – a 21-year-old who was hunting seabirds near Cape Ray (a headland in southwest Newfoundland) when he spotted something mysterious in the water – a shipwreck. It wasn’t his first time hunting in that particular spot, but it was the first he had seen of the wreck.

Source: Facebook/Anne Osmond

So, he did what any 21-year-old would do in that situation – he ran home and told his mother of his incredible discovery. She waited for the tide to roll out before grabbing some warm clothes and witnessing the wreck herself. And sure enough, there it was – and all of its beauty.

Experts Believe Hurricane Fiona Played A Role In Its Discovery

In September 2022, Newfoundland fell victim to a category 4 hurricane named Hurricane Fiona. It ravaged its way through the island, knocking down hundreds of trees and damaging more than 100 homes in the area. More than 200 residents were displaced, and at least one died, as a result.

Source: Adobe Stock

The early consensus is that Fiona began the process of unearthing the shipwreck – with each storm after that slowly digging it out from its mysterious grave. As coastal erosion grew worse, the shipwreck grew more visible – until January 20, when it finally came out to introduce itself – and we’re glad it did!

Residents Are Eager To Learn More About The Wreck

In the days and weeks following its appearance, residents all across Newfoundland have made the trip to see its wonder. The curved planks – each one crafted with precision and perfection. The wooden dowels – barely holding the ship together, as they were intended to do hundreds of years ago.

Source: The Canadian Press/Corey Purchase

“It’s amazing, there is no other word for it,” Wanda Blackmore, the mother of the 21-year-old who discovered the wreck, said in an interview with CBC last week. “I’m just curious if they can name the ship, and how old it is, and if there were any souls lost on her.”

She Wants The Ship Displayed At The Cape Ray Lighthouse

In an effort to ensure its preservation – and maybe get some answers – Blackmore, along with other residents, is reaching out to shipwreck experts who can help. For example, she has already emailed the Maritime History Archive at Memorial University (in Newfoundland) to help protect the ship.

Source: Adobe Stock

Once protected, she hopes to somehow get it displayed at the Cape Ray Lighthouse – a historical landmark that doubles as a museum. The lighthouse played a major role in directing ships through the Cabot Strait in the late 1870s, and these ships came from all across the globe – so the mysterious ship they found could’ve originated from anywhere!

One Expert Believes The Ship Is From The 1800s

Neil Burgess – the president of the Shipwreck Preservation Society of Newfoundland and Labrador – is offering his expert advice on how old the ship is and where it possibly came from. And based on what he has heard about the ship, he believes it was likely built in the 1800s.

Source: gords_picks from Getty Images via Canva

Burgess made this conclusion based on two major giveaways – the wooden dowels (known as trunnels) and copper pegs. Both of these features, which were vital to maintaining the ship’s structure and integrity, were common features of ships built in the 19th century. With that said, history has a way of surprising us, from time to time.

The Type Of Wood Tells Us Where It Was Built

Burgess hasn’t seen the wreck in person yet, but he’s hoping to take a trip out to Cape Ray soon to marvel at its mystery. What he does know is that the ship (as it sits there today) is roughly 24 meters long – but it’s not a complete ship, and the rest of it could still be left to discover.

Source: Katie Kaizer Photography

“It was a fairly substantial sailing ship, bigger than a schooner, I think,” Burgess told CBC in late January. As far as where the ship came from, it’ll come down to what type of wood was used to build it. “If it’s oak or beech or a hardwood species like that, it will tell us it wasn’t made here in Newfoundland and was probably made over in Europe somewhere.”

Local Databases Could Hold The Answer

A further investigation is needed, but experts hope to find more clues as to what this ship was carrying, where it was coming from, where it was headed, and who might’ve been on board when it sunk. They can then use those clues to search databases of lost ships in the Cape Ray area – in hopes of finding a match.

Source: Facebook/Cecil Sheaves

With that said, there are likely thousands of sunken ships in the area that have yet to be discovered – so determining the exact origin of this one might be difficult. “This story has gone worldwide and hopefully we can secure the wreck so the officials can document it,” said Anne Osmond – a local resident who wants to learn more.

One Local Resident Is Doing Their Part To Preserve The Ship

One local resident – Bert Osmond – is being praised for his dedicated efforts to preserve the ship and protect it from further damage. In fact, he even tied a rope around the ship to secure it in place – in an effort to prevent it from washing back out to sea. All it takes is one big wave or one little storm, and it could be gone forever!

Source: Facebook/Wayne Osmond

While Osmond is doing his part to preserve the ship, others are trying to secure their piece of history. According to one resident, some people have stolen artifacts from the ship – especially after the story went viral. The good news is we have people like Osmond, who spend most of their day guarding the ship from thieves – and waves.

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Ryan Handson

Written by Ryan Handson

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