Recovered Shipwreck Found In Assateague Surf; Officials Report It’s Discovered ‘On A Regular Basis’


ASSATEAGUE — Some visitors to Assateague this week were treated to a rare opportunity this week when the remains of an unknown shipwreck were uncovered in the surf in the Over-sand Vehicle (OSV) area.
Hundreds of shipwrecks have been researched and identified over the years off the coast of Assateague as well as the Maryland and Virginia coasts and remains and artifacts are often uncovered at times of changing tides and shifting sands along the migratory barrier island. Many more have been reported in dated newspaper accounts and other documents over a couple of centuries, but have not been discovered or researched.
This week, the remains of an unidentified vessel were revealed in the surf line along Assateague in the OSV area at Mile 18. Assateague officials are uncertain of the age or origin of the heavy timbers that stuck out of the sand in the surf, according to Assateague National Seashore Chief of Interpretation and Education Rachelle Daigneault.
“This shipwreck is one of those that gets uncovered and recovered on a regular basis,” she said. “It is being slowly deconstructed in the surf over time. Though we don’t know its history, it makes for wonderful moments of discovery for visitors exploring the shore.”
Shipwrecks off the coast of Assateague have been documented as early as the late 1600s and as recent has just a few decades ago. In 2002, the Maryland Historical Trust, in cooperation with the Maryland State Historic Preservation Office, completed a comprehensive archaeological overview and assessment of the maritime resources at Assateague Island National Seashore. The National Park Service initiated the study in part to evaluate known shipwrecks located off the ocean side of Assateague Island to determine their eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places.
Remains of eight shipwrecks are known within Assateague Island National Seashore and site forms exist for five of them. The study indicated that at least 156 shipwrecks occurred within the boundaries of the National Seashore and another 55 occurred in the vicinity and may be still present due to drifting.
Another 53 are documented in terms too vague to state with certainty if they occurred directly off the coast of Assateague. For example, many of the reports collected during the study, some dating back to the 1700s, simply state the vessels were “lost off the coast of Maryland.”
Some of the references to wrecks off the coast of Assateague are more direct then others, but many are still almost impossible to use for the identification or relocation of the remains. The shipwrecks listed in the study included only those which were total losses, or suffered significant damage. The study is quick to point out because of the active nature of the migratory shoreline as well as the effects of waves, tides and currents, many of the remains of shipwrecks discovered in and around Assateague may have occurred in other areas of the mid-Atlantic and drifted into the study area.
The first on the list was the British ship “Princess Ann,” which foundered and completely broke up on Assateague’s beach in 1698. The very last entry is the American merchant ship “Nancy Jane,” which foundered off the coast of Chincoteague in 1968. In the nearly 300 years in between, the study attempts to document hundreds of vessels of all shapes and sizes that wrecked off the coast of Assateague, the remains of some of which have been identified and documented, while others have not.

3 thoughts on “Recovered Shipwreck Found In Assateague Surf; Officials Report It’s Discovered ‘On A Regular Basis’

  1. Shawn, you overlooked the most historically important shipwreck on all of the Eastern Shore. La Galga, the shipwreck that legend says brought the wild horses to Assateague, celebrates 263 years since she ran ashore on Assateague Island, September 5, 1750. Tune into Coastal Connection on 88.3 this Friday at noon and 8pm to hear Brian Russo interview the author of The Hidden Galleon: the true story of a lost Spanish ship and the wild ponies of Assateague Island.

  2. Where can I take a piece of glass I found on assateague? I want to learn more about my findings. The closest report on google was a rum bottle from 1849. I found it right after a hurricane a few years back.

  3. I wonder just where mile 18 lies along the beach. Whenever I walk down to the old coast guard station,I hit an area where this wave of the most profound sadness envelopes me like a fog.As I walk further along, it leaves me,until I turn back and hit the area again .
    I’ve never seen these ribs,but I can’t help but wonder if they lie anywhere near where I get that sadness. I would love to see them sometime and maybe just put my hands on them.
    I was looking for information about wrecks along the OSV about 1/2-3/4’s of the way down to the hook .That’s how I found this site.:-)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>