Ponte Vedra Beach shipwreck's final voyage

Archaeologists supervise move of 150-year-old hull to GTM Research Reserve

By Ashley Harding - Reporter, Crystal Chen - Assignment editor/reporter

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. - After spending weeks on the sand of South Ponte Vedra Beach, the "Spring Break Wreck" was moved to a new home.

The massive piece of hull of what is believed to be wooden sailing ship built in the 1800s washed ashore March 27 after a period of heavy storm and wave activity. 

Not only did it pique the interest of history buffs, it made national headlines. Hundreds of people and families came to the beach just to have the chance to see it.

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The state of Florida and the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum (LAMP) moved the wreck off the beach Thursday, transporting it to a new home at the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve -- a state facility about one mile away from where it washed up.

Riggers carefully transported and secured parts of the sunken ship onto a tractor. It drew a small crowd, and even bystanders lent a hand as it slowly made its way across the beach.

The process took nearly four hours and was completed without the wreckage breaking apart.

"It was a ton of relief," said Chuck Meide, director of LAMP.

Archeologists believe the ship was built sometime between the 1830s and the 1860s. When it was first discovered, there were visible tool marks and Roman numerals on the hull. 

"It's amazing, Pamela Muhl, of St. Augustine, said. "Unbelievable how old it is."

Archaeologists also believe it came from somewhere in the southern United States and wrecked relatively early in its career as a merchant cargo carrier. They believe it was buried for over a century.

The reserve said the wreckage will be on display as early as Friday.

LAMP is trying to raise money to further study and preserve the shipwreck. Anyone who wishes to donate can visit the program's Facebook page.

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