Despite causing massive devastation across the East Coast, Hurricane Sandy did reveal a piece of lost history.
A wrecked schooner boat buried on Fire Island ages ago in New York was fully exposed by the storm. The shipwreck is said to be about 4 miles east of Davis Park, between Skunk Hollow and Whalehouse Point, in the Fire Island National Seashore.
“There’s so little of it left we may not be not be able to determine which ship it actually is, but we may be able to learn more about its age,” said one official. “It’s just a rare treat to see something exposed.”
The remains are thought to be the Bessie White, more than 90 years old, said Paula Valentine, public affairs specialist for the park. Historic photographs and news accounts don’t agree on the year of the ship’s grounding, but here is an outline of its story:
The ship, a four-mast Canadian schooner, went aground in heavy fog about a mile west of Smith’s Point, Long Island, in either 1919 or 1922. The men escaped in two boats. One capsized in the surf, injuring one crew member, but everyone (including the ship’s cat) made it to shore safely. But the crew couldn’t save the 3-year-old ship or its tons of coal. The ship was salvaged in the following weeks.
The bus-size ship’s skeleton has poked up through the sand before, such as after a nor’easter in 2006, exposing long boards and metal pegs, Valentine told OurAmazingPlanet.
The dune that used to bury the wreck eroded back an average of 72 feet, said U.S. Geological Survey coastal geologist Cheryl Hapke, who is studying the changes on Fire Island.