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Florida construction workers uncover 19th-century shipwreck in St. Augustine

Construction workers digging at a downtown St. Augustine drainage improvement project uncovered the remains of a 19th-century wooden fishing boat.

Southeastern Archaeological Research (Search), an archaeology firm subcontracted by the Florida Department of Transportation identified the vessel and an excavation team used water with controlled pressure to remove mud covering the vessel –  a “small single-masted, shallow-draft” sailboat used for fishing coastal waterways and directly offshore,” James Delgado, Search’s senior vice-president, said in a statement.

Crews recovered about 19-feet of the boat which was originally between 24 and 28 feet long. Artifacts were also recovered, including the base of a kerosene lamp, leather shoes, 19th Century coins and two coconut shells.

Greg Evans, FDOT district 2 secretary, said in a statement the discovered vessel had been preserved well after sinking into the ground about 140 years ago.

“It was encapsulated in soil and mud, so there was no air contact for it to decay. It’s truly an incredible find,” Evans said.

“With every project we undertake, the Florida department of transportation is sensitive to the unique needs of the communities we serve, including the potential presence of historical sites and artifacts within construction sites.

“We are grateful to our partners at Search for their careful efforts to preserve this vessel, and we look forward to learning more about its significance to the region.”

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