Divers discover mid-1800s shipwreck near Cape Vincent

This is an underwater shot of the bow of the Great Lakes sloop discovered in August by Dennis R. McCarthy and Raymond I. ?Skip? Couch. The ship sank between 1850 and 1870.

By Jaegun Lee - Watertown Daily times

Two veteran divers discovered a rare mid-19th century shipwreck on the northeast end of Lake Ontario in the upper St. Lawrence River near Cape Vincent.

Dennis R. McCarthy, who discovered the wreck by pure coincidence with fellow diver Raymond I.

“Skip” Couch, said the ship appears to be a Great Lakes sloop used for short-distance cargo transportation in shallow waters that sank sometime between 1850 and 1870.

“We were getting new side scans of known shipwrecks for another book we are working on,” said Mr. McCarthy, Cape Vincent.

“We found this wreck by accident in a location you would never expect to find a sunken ship. Skip forgot to turn the equipment off and kept the side-scan sonar running.

We later identified the outlines of a shipwreck with the side scans from that day.”

After their discovery in August, the divers went back to the site in September and videotaped the 50-foot-long and 14-foot-wide wreck so that the state Historic Preservation Office in Albany could review and confirm that it was indeed a new find.

The Historic Preservation Office confirmed in November that the wreck had not been registered with the state.

At this point, little is known about the ship and the circumstance of its sinking.

Based on the video images of the wreck, underwater archaeologists determined it is similar to Hudson River sloops but with a unique centerboard and triangular rudder design not seen before on the Great Lakes.

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