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TOPIC: Preservationists worry dock could impact Civil War-era shipwreck

Preservationists worry dock could impact Civil War-era shipwreck 6 years 1 month ago #14178

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Preservationists worry dock could impact Civil War-era shipwreck

By Keith Morelli | Tribune Staff

TAMPA — For the past 151 years, the Scottish Chief has slept beneath the gentle current of the Hillsborough River, undisturbed as the city grew from a 1,000-resident cow town when the Civil War blockade runner sank to today’s urban center with 350,000 residents and a massive shipping port that berths freighters rather than schooners.

The Scottish Chief, a 124-foot oak and pine steamboat that had smuggled ammunition and guns to Confederate troops and cotton and hides to Cuba, was discovered on the river bottom in 2009 and remains mired in the muck just north of downtown.

An archaeologist who oversees shipwreck research in the region said a city project to build a dock near the resting place of the Scottish Chief could irreparably damage the fragile site and impact future excavations and research along that stretch of river, which may hold other wrecks.

The city’s plans to place a 110-foot long dock close to the Scottish Chief isn’t close enough to disturb the wreck, but that’s not the issue, said Nicole Morris, the project director for South Eastern Archaeological Services, which contracts with The Florida Aquarium to oversee the shipwreck survey projects.

“We are concerned about the effect additional boat traffic may have on both the stern-wheel steamer site and any additional archaeological sites that may exist along the Water Works Park’s riverfront,” she said.

It’s difficult to predict how boat traffic will impact the site, she said, but anchors dropped on to the wreck could do irreparable damage. She said the site needs to be marked and monitored “to ensure the wreck is not impacted by activities associated with this development.”

While researchers mostly agree that the wreck found in 2009 is the Scottish Chief, Morris said official confirmation can only come with the discovery of the ship’s bell, and that’s unlikely.

“If these are the remains of Scottish Chief, damage or destruction of the site would result in the loss of an incredibly important heritage site representing the history and development of the Tampa Bay region,” she said.

Additionally, she said, there may be other shipwrecks nearby. Ship owners a century or more ago used to scuttle old vessels in areas that are away from deep-water channels, and that’s one such area.

Morris said one of the ships that sank in the area near Water Works park was the Gopher, a flat-bottom steamship that belonged to Clarence B. Moore. Moore was a wealthy explorer who sailed around the globe researching shipwrecks.

“His research and illustrations are still examined by archaeologists today because many of the sites he dug contained burials and artifacts now lost as a result of looting and development,’’ Morris said.

“The Gopher,” she said, “could still be located in the river in front of the park and her loss would be an incredible loss to the archaeological community and Florida’s cultural heritage.”

The wreckage of the Scottish Chief appears to be intact, though it is too fragile to move. Local history preservationists aren’t as concerned about increased boat traffic disturbing the wreck as they are about marking the spot.

“I think our historic sites need to be preserved,” said Phil Walters, with the Judah P. Benjamin Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

“What’s there is down in the muck and there’s nothing to see,” he said, “But we’d like to see it marked so that people who visit the area know we have a rich cultural history. Tampa was a blockade running port.”

The wreckage of the Scottish Chief, built in North Carolina in 1855, is one of two Civil War era ship wrecks that dot the river’s bottom. The other is the Kate Dale, which sits along the eastern shore of the river just north of Lowry Park.

Both vessels were damaged by a Union army raid in October 1863. The Kate Dale was burned to the waterline and sank near its mooring, while the Scottish Chief was damaged, but remained afloat. Historians say it was towed down river where it was stripped of anything salvageable and scuttled.

The location of the Scottish Chief wreck was only found five years ago. There never was a plan to excavate the wreck, owing to its delicate nature, but maritime archaeologists painstakingly took measurements, plotted exact locations of different parts of the vessel.

Last week, the county granted a variance for the city to build the dock that includes six boat slips. A state archaeological resource rule prohibits construction of the dock too close to the shipwreck.

Andrew Zodrow, assistant counsel for the county’s Environmental Protection Commission, said the dock’s location was planned so it will have little or no physical impact on the wreck. If the city insisted on putting the dock over or too near the remains of the Scottish Chief, the state’s division of historical resources would get involved, he said.

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Preservationists worry dock could impact Civil War-era shipwreck 6 years 1 month ago #14179

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This is BS. There is no "Cultural Heritage" left to be found on this wreck. Talk about overkill...
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Preservationists worry dock could impact Civil War-era shipwreck 6 years 1 month ago #14183

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"By Keith Morelli | Tribune Staff

TAMPA — For the past 151 years, the Scottish Chief has slept beneath the gentle current of the Hillsborough River, undisturbed as the city grew from a 1,000-resident cow town when the Civil War blockade runner sank to today’s urban center with 350,000 residents and a massive shipping port that berths freighters rather than schooners.

The Scottish Chief, a 124-foot oak and pine steamboat that had smuggled ammunition and guns to Confederate troops and cotton and hides to Cuba, was discovered on the river bottom in 2009 and remains mired in the muck just north of downtown."

For heavens sake people-not every wreck site is a damned nautical national treasure. Had archaeologists had anything to do with it, the bridges that have collapsed up in Minneapolis, Seattle and Webber's Falls, OK would have had to be abandoned and left for future archaeologists to ponder, milk for grant money and write reams of conjecture about in the 23rd century.

Rephrased as it should be this would read:
For the past 151 years, the Scottish Chief has rotted beneath the gentle current of the Hillsborough River, slowly decomposing as the city grew from a 1,000-resident cow town when the Civil War blockade runner sank to today’s urban center with 350,000 residents and a massive shipping port that berths freighters rather than schooners.

The Scottish Chief, a 124-foot oak and pine steamboat that had smuggled ammunition and guns to Confederate troops and cotton and hides to Cuba, was discovered on the river bottom in 2009 and some portions of it remain mired in the muck just north of downtown, dissolving in the acid bath that is the ocean.
Bill Black
Search and Salvage
Sebastian, FL 32958
No regrets. No prisoners.
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