Unknown Shipwreck Laid to Rest
Contact: Outer Banks Group, (252) 473-2111
Cape Hatteras National Seashore recently partnered with the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in conducting an archaeological study of a shipwreck on Hatteras Island known only as the Ramp 55 Wreck. Little is known of the ship except that it was a six-mast schooner built out of oak and pine sometime between 1870 and 1900.
The shipwreck was carefully unearthed and documented during the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum’s week long Shipwreck Archaeological Workshop (SAW) in Hatteras, North Carolina for students from grade eight and above. In its third summer of existence, SAW provides ten young students the opportunity to learn what it is like to study a shipwreck and use skills learned in math, science, history, social science, and writing in a real life, hands-on situation.
Staff members from the National Park Service (NPS) were also at the site to aid in the preservation of the remains. A thirty foot long by eighteen foot wide section of the hull was exposed. Originally, the NPS planned to move the wreck to the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum where it could be displayed for the visiting public. However, attempts to move the heavy wreckage failed. It was decided that, since it could not be moved, the best way to preserve the ship was to rebury it and allow the island to claim it once again.
Although little is known at this time about this particular shipwreck, it remains a vital cultural artifact that should not be tampered with and is protected by federal law. With over 2,000 possible shipwrecks along the Outer Banks, previously unknown wrecks are being discovered all the time, especially after weather events. While Cape Hatteras National Seashore wishes that all visitors enjoy any shipwrecks they may see, do not remove, disturb, deface or destroy any part of them. Further research may yet yield pertinent information on these wrecks on Seashore beaches and the people who once sailed them. Therefore, all shipwreck exploration and recovery activities needs to always be coordinated by Park approved professionals under archaeological guidelines. While exploring the beach, if you come across a shipwreck or artifacts from a shipwreck, provide as much detail as you can to a Park Ranger. Shipwreck information is being entered into a database for the purpose of tracking and studying as well as for public inquiries and research.
Did You Know?
The U.S.S. Monitor sank off Cape Hatteras during a storm in December 1862. The wreck's location was a mystery until 1973 when a research vessel found the ship 16 miles off the cape in 230 feet of water. In 1975, the Monitor was named the nation’s first National Marine Sanctuary.