By Jennifer Johnson - The Examiner
"This is a very exciting find," recounted Bruce Lockett, director of the Texas Archaeology Study Association (TASA) and president of the Vidor Historical Society, referring to a wreck site discovered by the group months ago.
"We've been searching for this site for quite awhile, and I think we may have finally found what we have been looking for."
Lockett told The Examiner in August of this most recent find, but now the TASA team has pictures of artifacts located around the wreck site, items which lead the group to think they have indeed uncovered the object they have spent years searching to find.
Lockett said he and his group have been searching for the sunken Angelina steamboat, believed discarded along the Neches riverbed only a few years after it was commissioned in 1844.
"It made 12 trips, and on the last trip coming back it was lost in transit," he said. Information logged by Lockett and TASA maintain an account of the vessel.
"This (August) expedition was searching for the steamboat Angelina, which sank in the same area in 1849," Lockett wrote in a log of the find sent to the Texas Historical Commission.
"The expedition's purpose was to photograph and designate possible sites for exploration review to find the steamboat.
It is believed the vesel in completely intact with boiler and engine still onboard along with many historical artifacts from the period."
Lockett said a boiler/engine combo recovered from an 1800s wreck site is unheard of to this date, but anticipates that streak to change when TASA is able to explore the site, which is located south of Evadale.
While the actual wreck site is under more than 100 years of debris and river sand built up over the past century, team members have collected multiple artifacts for review.
And, according to seasoned excavator Lockett, the finds have been consistent with what they expected to locate at the Angelina wreck site.
Among some of the objects uncovered at the location were carbon batteries, 10-inch nails, angle irons and rivets, and unidentified artifacts thought to be either whiskey barrels or cotton bales.
The only thing that stand between the group and what they believe is the long, lost Angelina is permission to excavate the site.
Lockett said they have been waiting to receive word from the Texas Historical Commission to commence with the dig since August, but he anticipates making a road trip to the state office to seek permission if he doesn't hear back from the state agency before the first of November.
"We are waiting on permission to dig the trench, but from what we are seeing, I feel we have found the Angelina," Lockett said.
"We have found many reasons to believe the most recent discovery will be the Angelina, but right now, we have to get all the facts checked with the proper authorities."