Saturday, December 11, 2004


Historic shipwrecks found in Hudson River

By Wilson Ring, Associated Press
December 9, 2004

Lake Champlain Maritime Museum divers explore 19th-century boats discovered by a DEC sonar scan.

MONTPELIER, Vt. -- A team of scuba divers from the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum has explored three underwater shipwrecks in the Hudson River that the lead diver describes as significant archaeological finds.

Two of the three wrecks, a canal boat and a sloop found in the river in Nyack, within sight of the Tappan Zee Bridge, were carrying coal. The third vessel, possibly a schooner, appeared to have been abandoned, said Maritime Museum Director Art Cohn.

"It's an extraordinary selection of North American shipwrecks that had not previously been studied," said Cohn, who has charted and explored shipwrecks on Lake Champlain for the past 30 years.

All three Hudson River wrecks date to the 19th century, he said.

The wrecks were spotted by a sonar scan of the river between New York City and the Capital Region that was conducted by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. That survey was meant to map fish habitat, said Cohn.

"They reached out to us with the idea that we would try to see if our tried and true techniques of measurement could be applied to these shipwrecks in these conditions," Cohn said. "It worked better than any of us could hope. It opened up a body of objects and information that has previously not been accessible."

The current on the river is fast and the water is brackish, an environment that makes it more difficult for such wrecks to survive.

Cohn said the wrecks were relatively well preserved because they were mostly buried in the mud.

The Hudson River project is being spearheaded by the Marine Sciences Research Center of Stony Brook University on Long Island. It was sponsored by the state DEC and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.

Cohn said museum officials would be working with the sponsoring agencies to try to decide what is to be done with the Hudson River wrecks, both those that were explored this year, and the other wrecks that have not been explored.

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