200-Year-Old Shipwreck Unearthed by Erosion on Florida Beach

After Tropical Storm Eta moved sand off, remnants of the ship could be seen for the first time ever.
Fabienne Lang
The 200-year-old shipwreckFort Matanzas/Facebook

Sand dune erosion on Crescent Beach in Florida has uncovered parts of a shipwreck from 200 years ago. 

The tropical storm Eta last week made bigger waves wash up on the shore, shifting sand and putting the ship's remnants on display after all these years buried beneath the ground. 

The remnants caught local resident, Mark O'Donoghue's, eye on his usual stroll on the beach, and he reached out to the St. Augustine Lighthouse Archeological Maritime Project (LAMP) director, Chuck Meide. The LAMP team got straight onto the project and began deciphering what this ship was and where it came from.


The LAMP team believes the unearthed timbers are likely part of an American merchant from the 1800s. 

"Over 70% of all known historic shipwrecks lost in Florida are merchant vessels participating in the coastal trade moving goods from one coastal port to another along the Atlantic coast," explained the team.

Dating the merchant ship was trickier, but the team has its deductions. "Everything we’ve seen on it so far fits that hypothesis; wooden planking, wood timbers, iron fasteners.  They look quite similar to other ships from the 1800s that we have seen," said Meide.

We have Tropical Storm Eta to thank for this historical discovery. As CNN reports, the storm created high tides with "coastal flooding and beach erosion," which led to sections of Crescent Beach moving and ultimately uncovering the wreck.

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It's still early days in the research but the LAMP team already believes these remnants might have been from the Caroline Eddy ship, as Meide told CNN.

"In late August 1880, the Caroline Eddy left Fernandina bound for New York with a cargo of lumber. She sailed into a hurricane, was driven south, and went ashore near Matanzas. Her crew survived after clinging to the rigging for two days and a night," further explained Fort Matanzas National Park.

The LAMP team is documenting and taking samples of the timber and ironwork for further research.