Civil War-era steamer discovered off Hernando Co. shore

Thursday, January 28, 2010

HERNANDO COUNTY (Bay News 9) — Archaeologists believe they discovered a Civil War-era steamer right off the coast of Bayport in Hernando County.

"It’s amazing to dig up some history like that," said Nicole Tumbleson, maritime archaeologist.

A video of a recent dive that Florida Public Archaeology Network did on the wreckage reveals what’s left of the steamer, including a porcelain sink. Even the hinge that attached the sink to the inside of the ship is intact.

"To find a vessel like that in Bayport just really changes our idea of what was going on in Florida at that time," Tumbleson said.

In 1863, Bayport was being used to sneak supplies to the Confederate Army. When the Union Navy spotted the steamer, they planned to capture it.

Confederates got wind of the Union Navy’s plan, and they decided to blow up the ship rather than have it captured, Tumbleson said. It has sat underwater ever since, for almost 150 years.

Joe Meehn and his wife, who have lived in Bayport overlooking the gulf for 20 years, said they never knew about the steamer sitting on the bottom of the ocean.

"It’s interesting because that leads to other questions, right? You want to know more," said Meehn.

Tumbleson thinks a steamer like this shows Florida had a bigger role in the Civil War than most people think.

©2010 Bay News 9

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