University of South Carolina’s Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology

It's anchors aweigh for underwater trail

By Brian Hicks - The Charleston Post and Courier

Last spring, a DNR research vessel trawling the waters off Georgetown snagged a most unusual catch — an 8-foot, early 19th century ship’s anchor.

Although it was an interesting find, the anchor also presented a big problem. Preserving the 1,400-pound hunk of metal — of undetermined historical significance — would cost thousands of dollars that the state just doesn’t have.

Luckily, the big coral-encrusted hunk of iron won’t have to go to the anchor graveyard.

It’ll be put out to pasture, so to speak. Next month, it will become part of the state’s Anchor Farm, part of the Cooper River Heritage Trail.

The trail — a collection of underwater historical sites marked by buoys, guidelines and underwater plaques — is quickly amassing a respectable collection of artifacts, and the anchors are a big part of that.

While there are other underwater trails in the Caribbean and Florida, there is no other place to see such a collection of centuries-old anchors.

“The Anchor Farm is unique,” said Chris Amer, the state’s underwater archaeologist.

“The maritime heritage trail is part of our education component. The Cooper River has some of the richest history along the Eastern Seaboard.”

Amer, who is with the University of South Carolina’s Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology, said the farm wasn’t really planned. It just sort of happened.