Rough seas uncover shipwreck in York

Beachgoers look over a ship

By Gillian Graham - Portland Press Herald

Rough seas that washed sand away from the beaches of York last weekend left behind a surprising sight for local residents: the remnants of a shipwreck.

Although the skeleton of the ship, believed to be at least 160 years old, has appeared from time to time on Short Sands Beach, little is known about the boat or how it ended up buried in the sand.

What's left of the wooden hull – catalogued by the state as the Short Sands Beach Wreck – made news in the 1950s after being exposed by a storm. It last appeared after the powerful Patriots Day storm in 2007.

"It always seems to stir the town up when it does arrive," said Tim Ellis, a lifelong resident whose mother brought a historian to York in 1958 to look at the wreck.

The sight of the timbers sticking out of the sand drew photographers and curious beachcombers to the wreck at low tide during the weekend and Monday. It remains to be seen how long it will take the waves to push sand back over the wreck, and when it will surface again.

The 51-foot-long hull is believed to be from a late colonial or early post-colonial sloop, which means it would date from 1750 to 1850, said Leith Smith, a historical archaeologist with the Maine Preservation Commission.

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