During the Carrabelle Hurricane in 1899, 15 ships were documented as being lost on Florida’s Dog Island, and some of these have now been discovered again 119 years later after Hurricane Michael.
As The Weather Channel reported, these ships originally washed ashore in the 19th century after a powerful storm moved from the Florida Keys into the Gulf of Mexico and gained strength, turning into the Category 2 Carrabelle Hurricane. Carrabelle, a beach resort town that is 20 miles away from Apalachicola, lost all but just nine houses and one woman was killed after a house collapsed on her, with six others having lost their lives to the 100 mph winds and $1 million in damage having occurred. The town was said to have been “literally wiped from the map at this time.”
As Florida Memory noted, Carrabelle was particularly vicious, and while 15 ships were documented to have been lost, it is estimated that there were actually between 57 and 60 vessels that were either destroyed completely or lost with time, including 40 smaller boats, 14 barques, and three pilot boats. Also reported to have been beached according to other sources were 13 lumber vessels.
“After first making landfall in the Dominican Republic, the storm passed over Islamorada in the Florida Keys on July 30. The storm reformed over the Gulf of Mexico and reached its peak intensity on August 1 shortly before landfall in the Panhandle. Although the hurricane came ashore near Apalachicola, the damage was greatest to the east towards Carrabelle and St. Teresa. Damage estimates reached $1 million dollars, including nearly 60 vessels beached or completely destroyed.”
Ships wrecked on Dog Island in 1899 unearthed by Hurricane Michael https://t.co/MAsFKAB79U— Tallahassee Democrat (@TDOnline) October 20, 2018
It is not currently known how many of the original 15 ships that were lost have been unearthed again after Hurricane Michael, and unfortunately Sarah Revell of the Florida Department of State has said that there are not currently any plans to have archaeologists visit the Franklin County barrier island where the ships have been spotted, explaining that “state resources are being allocated to more urgent hurricane recovery efforts.”
According to the Tallahassee Democrat, Revell also stated that the ships that were wrecked in 1899 have been visible occasionally, but have remained where they are now, only being fully exposed again after Hurricane Michael unleashed its fury.
“They’ve been mostly stationary since 1899 when they were wrecked in a hurricane. From time to time, some parts of the site have become exposed.”
While archaeologists will not be using state resources to study the 19th century shipwrecks that have been discovered again after Hurricane Michael, it is still fully possible that private resources will go toward studying the remains of these beached ships.