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Historic images of the City of Hawkinsville
Photos courtesy of the Florida Photo Archives and Underwater Archaeological Preserves, Florida Division of Historical Resources
The City of Hawkinsville, a wooden-hulled paddlewheel steamboat, was first constructed for the Hawkinsville (Georgia) Deepwater Boat Lines in 1886. It was sold 14 years later to the Gulf Transportation Company of Tampa which used it to transport cargo on the Suwannee River. The City of Hawkinsville was especially important to the growth of the lumber industry in the region. However, as railroads in the area started to increase in popularity, steamships became obsolete. In an ironic twist, the City of Hawkinsville transported materials for the construction of a railroad bridge across the Suwannee River at Old Town, thus assisting in the development of the railroads in the region. In 1922, the City of Hawkinsville's captain, Mr. Currie, abandoned the vessel in the middle of the Suwannee River as the steamboat was no longer profitable.

City of Hawkinsville wreck in the Suwannee
Photo courtesy of the Florida Maritime Heritage Trail, Florida Division of Historical Resources

The wreck’s port side is only three feet under the surface, while its starboard edge is at a depth of 20 feet. The 141-foot long by 30-foot wide vessel is in a remarkable state of preservation, and the hull is almost entirely intact including the stem post, the deck planking, exterior planking, boiler room and internal framing. The main propulsion system and the steam piping are still in place. The excellent condition of this vessel is due to the freshwater environment of the Suwannee. The City of Hawkinsville has reached a state of equilibrium with its surroundings and has stabilized.

The City of Hawkinsville is located on a ledge in the middle of the Suwannee River on the Dixie County side about 100 yards south of the railroad trestle at Old Town. The City of Hawkinsville lies in a dynamic river environment with limited underwater visibility and requires divers with advanced open water certification. Penetration of the hull is not allowed and diving is not recommended for novices or when there is high water. Mooring buoys have been placed at the wreck site to protect it from anchor damage. The shipwreck has been designated a Florida Underwater Archaeological Preserve, and a laminated underwater guide is available from local dive shops. The preserve is open to the public year round, free of charge.

Florida's Shipwrecks: 300 Years of Maritime History features a Teaching with Historic Places online lesson plan, The Spanish Treasure Fleets of 1715 and 1733: Disasters Strike at Sea. This lesson plan has been produced by the National Park Service's Teaching with Historic Places program, which offers a series of online classroom-ready lesson plans on registered historic places. To learn more, visit the Teaching with Historic Places home page.

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