Tides reveal previously undiscovered Conomo Point shipwreck

·2 min read

Sep. 23—ESSEX — Due to recent tide shifts, visitors at Conomo Point can see a newly discovered shipwreck out by the shoreline.

Kate Koch-Sundquist stumbled upon the wreckage earlier this month. She took some photos and posted them on the Facebook group Essex, MA—Notices and Issues, which kicked up a lively discussion with other members of the group.

"I've actually think I've seen it from afar before," Koch-Sundquist said. "The tides have been especially low and I was walking the dog out on the sandbar (that day). The sandbar shifts in the river every year. We spend a lot time boating and come spring time, it's kind of a challenge trying to find out where it ends up."

This year, the sandbar shift unearthed remains of an estimated 15-foot vessel from the 19th century. Members of the state Board Of Underwater Archaeological Resources investigated the shipwreck after it was spotted in March by Dr. Dianna Doucette, a principal investigator at the Public Archaeology Laboratory in Rhode Island.

"The finished (four-and-a-half square-inch) heads of the futtocks of five frames (doubled to create nine in-sided frames) from one side of the ship's hull, and (one-inch) thick hull planking visible extending above the sands, were measured and photo-documented by the board's staff," reads the minutes from a Board Of Underwater Archaeological Resources meeting on March 31.

"The observed condition of the shipwreck's wooden remains suggests an early-to-middle 19th century age for the wreck, based on the wood's observed condition relative to other dated shipwrecks BUAR staff has investigated in Massachusetts waters," the minutes continue.

Board members also uncovered a whiteware ceramic sherd near the wreck that they believe dates back as early as 1820.

"There's a lot of bad news these days. This is a great opportunity to share something different," said Koch-Sundquist. "Seagoing culture has always been a part of Essex. We lived across from a shipbuilder and my kids grew up playing across from the Shipbuilding Museum. I hope this 200-year mystery can rekindle some of Essex's boating culture."

Michael Cronin may be contacted at 978-675-2708, or mcronin@gloucestertimes.com.

Michael Cronin may be contacted at 978-675-2708, or mcronin@gloucestertimes.com.