ルイジアナで蒸気船(川船)発掘

ルイジアナ州のShreveport周辺の川底には11件の沈没船が確認されています。また、町を流れるRed Riverだけでも360件ほどの船の沈没記録があるそうです。南北戦争時の潜水艦などもあるそうです。

その中でとくにケンタッキー号の発掘が今年の夏に予定されているそうです。この船は蒸気船で川での交通を目的に作られました。1865年の6月に沈没し、200人以上もの犠牲者が出たそうです。当時の船の技術は知られていない部分が多く、完全に発掘されれば貴重な情報となります。しかし、発掘にはお金が掛かること、また、犠牲者の遺骨などが残っているため、どこまで発掘を行うかが検討されています。一部を引き上げ、残りはこれ以上川の流れの影響を受けないように埋めるなど検討されています。

この件に関してNewsが3つあります。興味のある人は英語のNewsをご覧下さい。

http://www.shreveporttimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=200660415004

http://www.shreveporttimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=200660415003

http://www.shreveporttimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=200660415005

Aug. 1, 1997: Work goes on at 1865 shipwreck site
300,000 project will preserve the Kentucky, stabilize riverbank
The grave site of a steamboat sunken in Shreveport 132 years ago will remain untouched for the most part, officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Thursday. That is disputed by local Civil War historians, however.

Officials here have started archaeological studies on the Kentucky, which sunk just days after the end of the Civil War here in 1865. It struck an obstruction in the river near what’s known now as Eagle Bend in south Shreveport as it carried about 900 Confederate soldiers and their family members — estimates on the number of passengers vary — home from the war.

Hundreds died in the shipwreck, according to news accounts at the time.

About 30 feet of the 200-foot ship’s stern still sits in the water and the rest is buried in earth. Scientists want to chart, examine and remove the stern, re-bury it beside the buried part of the ship and chart where they put the pieces. Divers on site have already begun this work.

After that, the corps wants to stabilize the riverbank where the stern now lays, corps archaeologist Erwin Roemer said.

Site study supervisor John Seidel said the team doesn’t anticipate finding artifacts like passengers’ valuables, but they are eager to learn about the boat’s construction. Few details exist on how the boat, a “western steamboat,” was built, Seidel said.

The project should be complete by September at an estimated cost of about $300,000, said Roger Cockrell, project manager for the Red River Navigation Project.

Area historians, however, don’t want to see the stern disassembled for fear it contains bodies. Civil War historian and author Gary Joiner of Shreveport said the shipwreck victims could number 700 to 900 people, which, if true, would make it the second-largest loss of life in a shipwreck on inland waters.

“If the potential that this is a grave site is there, we ought to not desecrate the graves,” Joiner said.

Seidel said “there’s no question some died,” but only the hull of the ship — usually used to hold cargo, not people — sank. The upper floors he believes housed people were above the water when the ship sank, Seidel said.

Joiner, referring to news accounts from 1865, asks “Why did the papers not comment on refugee camps or large numbers of refugees at the site?”

Historians would like to see the ship brought up and preserved, but that’s too costly, Joiner said. A cheap alternative would be to bury the stern with the rest of the boat and push the bank stabilization project deeper into the river. That would keep any bodies in the stern undisturbed, Joiner said.

“All we’re asking for is 30 to 50 feet of the river because there is the chance that the dead are still inside,” Joiner said.

©The Times
April 17, 2006


Aug. 26, 1999: River’s wrath left sunken ships
April 17, 2006

Call it a historic coverup.

The Red River and its banks are a repository for the past: At least 11 wrecked ships are within the city limits of Shreveport or a quarter mile, said local historian Gary Joiner.

“There are others. These are just the ones we’ve been working on.”

Along the Red, 363 steamboats were reported lost, according to an April report prepared for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

According to Joiner’s research, 200 ships, commercial and military, sank in the Red between 1811 and 1891 — most going down after hitting the notorious snags of logs.

Exploring these wrecks and other sites is important, said Tommy Hailey, director of the cultural resource office at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches. He has also worked on retrieving artifacts from the Civil War ship Eastport.

“Documents contain some information but they don’t record everything,” he said. “Frequently we only have a partial picture. A lot of it is to be gained through archaeology.”

One extraordinary find would be Confederate submarines built in Shreveport during the Civil War. According to the book Union and Confederate Submarine Warfare in the Civil War, the subs were sunk somewhere near Cross Bayou. Joiner and others plan to try to locate the subs sometime this fall.

But are relics of history — whether subs or ships — at risk when navigation projects take place? Shreveport historian Eric Brock said the Red River project unearthed sites that may never have been found otherwise.

“In a way, the work of the Corps has been of enormous benefit,” he said. “Their work has been doubly beneficial — opening the river and creating a future commercial base, and at the same time it is teaching us a lot about what is buried out there.”

Steamboats homeported at Shreveport in the 1800s carried such romantic names as the Fanny Fern, Luda and Runaway.

But these vessels plied dangerous waters. As late as 1876 only a few insurance companies would underwrite boats traveling on the Red since the chance of damage was 10 times higher than on other rivers.

In the 1870s, when the Corps resumed removing the raft of logs that clogged the river, pilots and others reported 36 steamboat wrecks between Campti and Shreveport — hidden hazards for boats plying the Red.

Disasters did happen. Today, the Corps follows a strict process, required by law, in examining those wrecks, said Tad Britt, archaeologist for the Corps’ Vicksburg district.

There must be consultations with state historic preservation offices, reviews of literature and records on the culture, field surveys, data collection.

Studies have found that most steamboat losses were caused by snagging — hitting uprooted trees floating in the water, according to the April Corps report. Boatmen developed their own terminology for these drifting agents of disaster.

“Floaters” were simply trees carried with the current; “sinkers” were trees that floated just below the surface, difficult to see. And “sawyers” or “planters” were trees and stumps with their roots firmly in the river bed — and the most dangerous of all because they were fixed and more likely to put a gash in a hull.

The Kentucky was one such boat that hit an obstruction in the river and sank in 1865. The 222-foot sidewheel packet was carrying hundreds of paroled Confederate soldiers and their families when it went down south of Shreveport. Hundreds of passengers lost their lives.

The Kentucky was mostly forgotten until 1994, when a fisherman reported that a shipwreck was visible from the west bank. Archaeologists examined the site, and the exposed part eventually was reburied.

Computer models of the wreck will be part of displays at the Corps’ future Shreveport visitor center, but it’s not likely the remains of such ships would ever be raised, Britt said.

©The Times
April 17, 2006


Sept. 19, 1997: Civil War wreckage yields clues to past
Treasure trove of artifacts revealed

More than 900 Confederate soldiers had just survived the bloodiest war in American history. But the vessel they boarded for home would take many of them to their graves instead.

Shipwrecked on the Red River south of Shreveport, the steamship Kentucky went down slowly the night of June 9, 1865, killing many soldiers — along with their wives and children — after snagging its hull on a tree-garbled riverscape. The vessel nosed to shore but sank.

The 222-foot sidewheel, flat on its bottom and curved at its bow, still rests deep beneath the waters of the Red not far south of where LSUS is now.

Almost 134 years later, the stories of pandemonium, destruction and tragedy were very much alive with the resurrection of the Kentucky’s anchor — still intact — Thursday afternoon. Almost six weeks of zero visibility underwater has not kept archeological divers from reliving every second of the wreck.

“This is another way of proving what the historical record is, but in a much more tangible way,” said David Robinson, safety officer and assistant project director of the site.

John Seidel, project director and assistant vice president for nautical archeological services for R. Christopher Goodwin & Assoc., Inc., the project’s contract archaeologists, said the project also is yielding rich returns of knowledge about the riverboats themselves.

“Their history is poorly documented,” he said, of design and machinery details his divers are discovering. “Usually things like that don’t last and are not part of the documents.”

“The most exciting part is the ship itself because it represents the pinnacle of transportation technology back then. It’s like excavating the space shuttle from 150 years ago.”

That site would have never held significance were it not for a fisherman’s luck in spotting the exposed stern of the wreck during a time of low water in 1994.

Since then, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has begun the local phase of the massive Red River Waterway Project, which as originally planned would have destroyed a large part of the stern with a stone revetment.

Through the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 and the Abandoned Shipwreck Act of 1987, the Corps was able to bring in private excavators and document for the first time the fatal final voyage home for so many eager soldiers.

“It’s a red-letter day,” Civil War author Gary Joiner said. “As a professional military historian, this wreck is very special because we know indeed it is the Kentucky, and we have its war record.

“We know that it fought as a troop and supply transport vessel for the Confederates. It served the Confederacy pretty well.”

On its final voyage, the vessel was known to be carrying 250 horses and as many as 1,200 people, including more than 900 Missouri soldiers and 50 African-Americans. As many as 200 passengers died in the wreckage.

The deaths signified the beginning of the end for Shreveport’s connection to the war — the same city that served as the last Confederate capital to surrender before the Civil War ended.

But the historical significance goes beyond the human dimension.

From a bilge pump used to flush water from the boat to corroded buttons of Confederate and Union soldiers, the excavation commissioned by the Corps has given historians a reason to stare awestruck into murky waters.

“We’ve uncovered a great view of this wreck,” said Seidel. “We’ve seen a load of anchors before, but things like the bilge pump and hogging chains are something special.”

From the wreckage, divers also collected cast-iron cookware with scrapes of metal spoons embedded in their base and medicine bottles and buttons amid silt and debris. The artifacts, which must constantly be kept wet to cut down on corrosion, soon will be on their way to chemical preservation. The relics will go to the state, which has formal ownership of the ship and its cargo.

Seidel said excavators have been contracted — at a cost of $250,000 to $300,000 — to provide a technical report for historians and the state, a separate report for the public, and a video that can be used for education.

State representatives couldn’t say when, if ever, the artifacts would be put on display. But one thing is for sure: The bulk of the site will be left alone.

Despite the urge to resurrect the entire ship and reconstruct it above ground, scientists insist its muddy grave is the best form of preservation around. “One of the most frequent questions I get is, ‘Why not just raise the boat?’ ” Robinson said. “But the wood, after spending time under water, changes in cell structure and makes it harder to stay intact after it’s exposed to the air.”

Approximately 20 feet of the ship’s stern already had eroded by the time it was discovered. That’s why researchers were so surprised to find the bilge pump, used to drain seepage from the lowest regions of the vessel, and hogging chains, used to keep the ends of the boat from sagging from their weight.

With the protection of the stone revetment, the Civil War remnants will be left where they sit today: under sediment in an older, abandoned channel of the Red. Its stern remains under water, while the rest has become a part of the adjoining land.

The 106 dives, 33 days and 194 hours spent mapping out the Kentucky will be replaced by 10 feet of Red River silt and a stone wall to preserve the 140-year-old vessel, and its inhabitants, in their grave.

“This is now pretty much holy ground,” Joiner said. “The United States and the state would have to approve any further action, so we want to concentrate now on is to see it memorialized.

“If there are dead people still on that vessel, they’re under the ground. As far as I’m concerned this is a grave, and we simply want to give these people the honor that they deserve. This is the last act of the war that Shreveport ever knew.”

©The Times
April 17, 2006

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