Remains of Civil War blockade runner found on bottom of Hillsborough River

Scottish Chief

By Robbyn Mitchell - Tampa Bay

Burned and sunk, the steamship Scottish Chief lay at the bottom of the Hillsborough River for 146 years, a legend for its ability to keep Tampa afloat amidst the city's isolation during the Civil War.

Underwater archaeologist John William Morris, with the Florida Aquarium, said Tuesday a research team has found the ship, a vessel not seen since the night in 1863 when Union troops raided the shipyard.

Morris' team first spotted the suggestion of a ship Aug. 29 with new sonar technology, but it took until Tuesday to confirm that the shadowy trace in the sand was that of the lost blockade runner.

The relic has been lodged underwater near the Interstate 275 exit to the Hillsborough Bridge, across from Blake High School, said aquarium spokesman Tom Wagner.

The find comes one year after the discovery of the Kate Dale in the river, which had been reduced to wooden ship's ribs, he said.

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Civil War blockade runne Hillsborough River Scottish Chief John William Morris Florida Aquarium