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Unformatted text preview: Photo: F. Hocker The Clydesdale Plantation vessel as surveyed in February 1992; note the piling stumps in the background. As we motored around the bend archaeology firm directed by INA The Clydesdale in the slow, muddy river and up adjunct professor Gordon Watts. the Murray Hill Canal, a dozing The remains of numerous nine- alligator well over 12 feet long was Plantation Vessel teenth-century wharves and build- startled by the sudden appearance ings, including the boilers from a Project: of our boat from behind the roots steam threshing machine, were also of a dead cypress tree. He arched found. I was contacted in January his back to tum around; with a of 1992 by the local U.S. Army single slap of his tail he plunged Corps of Engineers archaeologist, from the bank into the canal and by Fred Hocker, Judy Wood, who had commis- was gone, leaving a scar in the sioned the 1991 survey and is re- 1992 Field Report Sara W. & George O. Faculty Fellow mud and a gurgling eddy in the sponsible for the management of brown water. We were used to the vessels found. She felt that this seeing alligators, two or three a day, but they usually slid sloop, the oldest vessel yet found in the Savannah River, into the river well ahead of us as we approached the site, was similar to the Brown's Ferry vessel (see INA Newslet- and it had become a game to see if we could spot them ter 18.4) in construction and age, and might help explain before they were spooked or distinguish the twin bumps some of the ferry's more unusual features. I was immedi- that marked them watching us from the shallows. With this ately intrigued, and the few slides she showed me suggest- grand old man of the swamp, there had been no time to ed that the vessel might indeed be another flat-bottomed point or yell, "'Gator!," before he disappeared. It was periauger, a log-based river transport. Kevin Crisman difficult to tell who was the more surprised. We saw others (from the Nautical Archaeology Program faculty at Texas later in the season, some quite large, and a small fellow, A&M University) and I arranged to visit the site later in perhaps six feet long, took up residence at the foot of the the winter and evaluate it as a possible excavation project. bank where we worked, but none reminded us as forcefully We arrived in Savannah in the middle of February and that we were strangers to the landscape. traveled the circuitous route to the wreck on a raw, rainy, We were out in the swamp, near Savannah, Georgia, windy day, along with Ms. Wood, Rusty Fleetwood, a excavating an eighteenth-century coastal sloop that had local expert on inland craft, and Larry Sbaffield, a local been buried under a river levee. The vessel was one of 19 volunteer. What we found was not at all what we expected, derelicts discovered in the fall of 1991 during a survey of but much more. Rather than a flat-bottomed riverboat, what the Back River, a secondary channel of the Savannah was eroding out of the bank was a sharp, fast coastal or...
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- Spring '09
- Archaeology, vessel, Starboard, Savannah River, INA Quarterly, F. Hocker