Hurricane Michael Uncovers Wreckage of 120 Year Old Ships

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A few weeks back, Hurricane Michael made landfall in Florida, bringing one of the most powerful storms in recent memory to bear on the “Sunshine State.” Michael left a trail of death and destruction in its path, demolishing homes and business, while knocking out power to large communities. But the massive hurricane also revealed a slice of history as well, uncovering the wreckage of three ships that are believed to be at least 120 years old.

According to the Tallahassee Democrat, Michael’s storm surge uncovered the three vessels on a place called Dog Island. The wooden ships are believed to be the skeletons remains of the Norwegian-flagged vessels the Vale and the Jafnhar, as well as an American schooner named the James A. Garfield. The three ships were reportedly pushed ashore back in 1899 by another hurricane that made landfall at Carrabelle.

The three ships haven’t been officially identified as of yet because most of Florida’s resources are being channeled into the recovery of the hardest hit areas. But the fact that the wreckage was found on Dog Island has led to the assumption they are indeed the missing vessels that were pushed aground 119 years ago. The hope is to positively identify them at a later date when time and resources aren’t so scare.

The Carrabelle hurricane of 1899 ripped through the Dominican Republic before crossing the open water of the Atlantic to reach Florida itself. When it made landfall it was reportedly a Category 2 storm. That’s considerably weaker than Michael, which struck the state’s coastline as a Category 4 hurricane, bringing wide spread damage with it. Still, 120 years ago construction methods and early warnings were not as advanced as they are today. As a result, Carrabelle was nearly wiped off the map, with just nine houses left standing.

It is interesting that a storm like Michael, which has been much maligned for the amount of destruction it brought to shore, could also uncover a slice of history. There probably isn’t much to be found in these ships any longer, but it is still fascinating none the less.

Kraig Becker