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"Mystery Ship" at Charlestown Beach

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
“Mystery Ship” at Charlestown Beach

A few weeks back I was in soco doing some early season scouting for the upcoming season and I stopped at Charlestown Beach to have lunch. After I walked over the dunes I noticed something I had never seen there before, the remnants of an old ship, which has clearly been there for a long time. I only fish this area in the late fall and have never seen it uncovered before.

The beams are big about 14” x 16” and the part of the structure that is exposed is about 40 to 60’ long. The main beams and held in place with 4” round wooden spikes. Its tough to get an idea of how big the ship actually is seeing most of it is still covered.

I tried doing some research online and found every little.

Yesterday I was back on the beach trying to get my first fish of the season and ran into a local gentleman who has lived the last 56 years in Charlestown. I asked him about the structure and this is some of details:

Its know as the “Mystery Ship”, the name of the boat is unknown, and so is every other detail about it, why it washed up, when, where it was coming from, etc.

The story he had heard is that it was sailing to New York and the some of passengers and crew caught yellow fever so the captain decided to head in to get help, the boat ran aground then settled on the beach, it was unable to be freed, so its was emptied and abandoned.

After I got home I went back online and found the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project website, (RIMAP) but they also had very little info on the ship online, so I emailed the director and got a response this morning, which reads:

Hello Mr. Blouin:

Thank you for your inquiry. The vessel to the east of the Charlestown Breachway has been studied by Charlestown Historical Society members and others for more than 30 years. The structure is revealed at intervals when the dune erodes, and I saw it earlier this winter. RIMAP had also done some remote sensing three years before to locate it while it was still covered. Unfortunately the part of the structure that was visible earlier this winter did not give any clues to the vessel's identity. There are a number of different possibilities, but in the absence of diagnostic features on the ship itself, or the discovery of some reliable historical material, we may have to accept the fact that we may never securely know what it was. Meanwhile, we continue to monitor the site, and to ask the public not to disturb it.

D. K. (Kathy) Abbass, Ph.D., Director
Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project (RIMAP)


Figured I’d share as I’m sure other people have seen the remnants of the ship and wondered what it was.

Enjoy,
Chef

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post #2 of 24
Gary? Sharkey?
post #3 of 24
S.S. White Perch
post #4 of 24
I was there today at low tide and saw it. Glad I didn't touch it, even if it didn't have anything to do with yellow fever.
post #5 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by UPSmanMatt View Post

Gary? Sharkey?

I think Gary might actually have the track on this one bud. I was always under the impression that it was the remnants of the Charlestown boardwalk that was destroyed in the 38 hurricane.

I DO know that a coal barge sunk inside the channels and was back near the last corner before you go into the pond. I drove my boats around it for years but at this point, it is essentially just a dark spot under the water and not much of an obstacle anymore.

Gary seemed to have info on it being a different coal barge but since RIMAP doesn't know, I'm not sure. The general consensus seems to have it as an old ship though so I don't think my boardwalk theory is too accurate. What was left of that probably disappeared not long after my great grandfather but who the heck knows.

I think Gary had something from the Charlestown historical society so maybe that could be it but it was also listed as a coal barge so I don't know.

I would probably lean toward Gary on this one though.
post #6 of 24
Thats The Black Pearl .. Jack Sparrow was using the can and the rest is history
post #7 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by whitey View Post

Thats The Black Pearl .. Jack Sparrow was using the can and the rest is history

highfive.gif
post #8 of 24
What?headscratch.gif What headscratch.gif ,,,Whitey said,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, It's full of GOLD. Newest series on Discovery. "GOLD at the Breachway"

It went aground in the 70's. Numerous account's about what happened. It was supposedly a coal barge. I have a book by the Charlestown historical society but I can't post pic's of it because of copy write infringement. The beach looks just like it did in the 70's when she went aground.
SharkStar, the remnant's of the boardwalk that your talking about were visable last week. It runs East to West, were the dunes once were.

Another far fetched recollection I heard was that it was a Viking ship that sunk North of RT 1 and with the natural transgression of the sea it just appeared.

I forgot to bring the book to TIMS Bfast. Next time we have an event remind me and I'll bring the book.
When we going to go Black Fishing again. Ryan?
post #9 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by borntafish View Post

What?headscratch.gif What headscratch.gif ,,,Whitey said,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, It's full of GOLD. Newest series on Discovery. "GOLD at the Breachway"
It went aground in the 70's. Numerous account's about what happened. It was supposedly a coal barge. I have a book by the Charlestown historical society but I can't post pic's of it because of copy write infringement. The beach looks just like it did in the 70's when she went aground.
SharkStar, the remnant's of the boardwalk that your talking about were visable last week. It runs East to West, were the dunes once were.
Another far fetched recollection I heard was that it was a Viking ship that sunk North of RT 1 and with the natural transgression of the sea it just appeared.
I forgot to bring the book to TIMS Bfast. Next time we have an event remind me and I'll bring the book.
When we going to go Black Fishing again. Ryan?


scuba.gifbiggrin.gif
post #10 of 24
We do need to set a date for some toggin. It'll have to be a Sunday for me, or later in the day if it's Saturday.
post #11 of 24
Ya know what ?- "F" Rhode Island's Hysterical society, Marine archeologists, etc...pusshead treehuggers with only an interest in keeping secrets, not solving them. I'm just a dumbass redneck diver and it took me one lousy paperback book to find some pretty hard data. If it is a ship it's likely the Harry P. Knowlton. It was a 128 ft x 33ft, 3 masted schooner that was used to transport coal out of NY. On February 12, 1907 she was off the CBW headed from NY to Everett, MA with 453T aboard when she T-boned the Larchmont, a luxury paddlewheel passenger steamer that eventually sank 3 miles SW of Watch Hill. The Harry P. Knowlton was washed ashore in the Charlestown area, most of her coal was lightered off by wreckers and salvers, but you still see a lot of coal chunks in the wash there. According to what I've read about her, the beach slowly overgrew her, and she is sometimes visible during periods of erosion. The only (relatively) accurate location that I could find was about 3/4 mile west of the Quonochontaug Life Saving Station. I don't know if that's still in existence. Many of these references to locations by wreck diving guys are from places or structures that are no longer around, but if you know where they were, you can find these wrecks.
post #12 of 24
Charlestown is EAST of quonny... There are hundreds of wrecks that have occured in RI waters. Im not saying that the wreck mentioned in that book is the wreck your talking about, but because they said it was WEST of the lifesaving station, i cant see how this could be the same wreck.
post #13 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by H'Islander View Post

Ya know what ?- "F" Rhode Island's Hysterical society, Marine archeologists, etc...pusshead treehuggers with only an interest in keeping secrets, not solving them. I'm just a dumbass redneck diver and it took me one lousy paperback book to find some pretty hard data. If it is a ship it's likely the Harry P. Knowlton. It was a 128 ft x 33ft, 3 masted schooner that was used to transport coal out of NY. On February 12, 1907 she was off the CBW headed from NY to Everett, MA with 453T aboard when she T-boned the Larchmont, a luxury paddlewheel passenger steamer that eventually sank 3 miles SW of Watch Hill. The Harry P. Knowlton was washed ashore in the Charlestown area, most of her coal was lightered off by wreckers and salvers, but you still see a lot of coal chunks in the wash there. According to what I've read about her, the beach slowly overgrew her, and she is sometimes visible during periods of erosion. The only (relatively) accurate location that I could find was about 3/4 mile west of the Quonochontaug Life Saving Station. I don't know if that's still in existence. Many of these references to locations by wreck diving guys are from places or structures that are no longer around, but if you know where they were, you can find these wrecks.

you need to work on expressing yourself.
post #14 of 24
The viking ship story sounds the coolest, I would just go with that
post #15 of 24
Actually it was a slaver that went down in a gale killing all hands and the entire human cargo. It is believed that over 300 perished because they were shackled below decks and could not escape the flooding waters. Every now and then local dogs find human bones, still bound in shackles, after big storms tear up the beach.
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