18th-Century Ship at the Foot of Wolfe

On Saturday, Alexandria left exposed for 4 hours the hull of an 18th-century ship uncovered during ongoing construction work on the block between Wolfe and Duke on Union. The ship is the largest of three undergoing excavations on the site and one of four discovered in a two-block area along the water; the fourth was encountered 18 months ago during construction of Hotel Indigo a block north.

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Visitors started to gather at noon for the 4-hour viewing period before tarps over the hull were replaced to protect it from degradation due to exposure.

The city’s Acting Archeologist told us during our visit that the ships were likely scuttled in 1798 as part of the city’s efforts to create more land on the waterfront to support warehouses of the port city.

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View of the hull facing north from Wolfe Street; the stone foundation of a 19th-century warehouse (that was buried by a 20th-century warehouse) can be seen at the top of the picture.

The ship is about 46′ by 25′ and had reinforced futtocks (curved timber pieces forming the lower part of a ship’s frame) suggesting that it could have been used to haul military cargo. A bunch of volunteers at the event wore “Save our Futtocks” buttons promoting funding preservation efforts for the ship.

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View of the hull facing west from the waterfront

In addition to scuttling the ships to extend the shoreline, the city also used cribbing – rough boxes created with logs and filled with anything on hand – for the same purpose.

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Exposed cribbing immediately west of the ship hull.

To be clear, this really wasn’t the most exciting find in the world and we were a little underwhelmed by the ship hull itself. That said, it’s great to see these historical remnants of the city’s early period exposed, interpreted, and open to the public during construction of a new development along the water and at the foot of Wolfe Street.

Save our Futtocks!

 

Categories: Alexandria History, Maps and Miscellany, WolfeStreetProject | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “18th-Century Ship at the Foot of Wolfe

  1. Kevin Quick

    Very interesting!

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like

  2. sandra Werner

    Here, here re:futtocks

    Like

  3. Caty

    So cool. I saw it but I didn’t get the explanations….. the boxes west of the ship had me curious about what else they found.

    Like

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