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Investigate the Mysteries of Shipwrecks in Science of the Deep - Steamship Portland

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Date: June 30, 2009
Contact: Jody Anastasio, District Interpreter, 508-487-1256

Although shipwrecks were commonplace on Cape Cod throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, the loss of nearly 200 lives aboard the steamship Portland in 1898 was a profound tragedy. Find out what a recent archaeological investigation has revealed about the wreck in “Science of the Deep: The Steamship Portland.”

On Sunday, July 12th, at 7:00 p.m. maritime archeologist Deborah Marx will describe what happened aboard a doomed steamship when the coast of New England was battered by a fierce storm infamously known as the “Portland Gale.” Using SCUBA, side scan sonar, remotely operated vehicles, and autonomous underwater vehicles, scientists from the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary were able to locate and document the site of the Portland and understand what caused a “safe and dependable steamer” to sink. Join Marx to find out what modern science can teach us about the tragedies of the past. Meet at the Province Lands Visitor Center auditorium. The program is free and open to the public.

Stretching from three miles southeast of Cape Ann to three miles north of Cape Cod, the Gerry E. Studds Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary is an 842-square-mile protected marine area.  The underwater plateau is made from glacial debris left behind at the end of the last Ice Age, and provides fertile fishing grounds for both marine life and humans. Stellwagen Bank has been the site of numerous shipwrecks over the past 400 years, and the sanctuary is responsible for locating and protecting these artifacts of maritime history.

Every Sunday in July and August, at 7:00 p.m., join a special guest for an in-depth look at the history, culture and nature of Cape Cod in a one-hour program. Come each week to explore a range of topics, from reptiles and amphibians to ocean currents. The programs are sponsored by the Friends of the Cape Cod National Seashore. All presentations will be held the Province Lands Visitor Center and are free, accessible and open to the public

IF YOU GO:

The Province Lands Visitor Center is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Staff members are available to answer questions, assist with activity planning, and provide hiking and bicycling trail information in person, or by phone at (508) 487-1256. The visitor center features museum exhibits, orientation films, and a bookstore with interpretive items such as books, maps, games and puzzles. The 360-degree rooftop observation deck provides views of the surrounding dunes and sea. A listing of all of the national seashore’s programs is available at the two seashore visitor centers, or on-line at www.nps.gov/caco.

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Did You Know?

Dune shack in the Peaked Hill Bars Historic District

Today, a dedicated group of families, individuals and non-profits carry on a unique heritage of art, reflection, and nature study at the dune shacks in Provincetown and Truro. A recent ethnographic study entitled, “Dwelling in the Dunes”, documents the people who live there today.