"The Ephemeral Cape St. George Shipwreck
on the Northern Gulf Coast"
by Nancy Marie White
The Florida Anthropologist, June, 2006
First discovered in the spring of 2006, the shipwreck on the cape section of Little St. George Island in Franklin County, designated 8FR857, was recorded during July 1996 as part of an archaeological survey in the path of 1994 tropical storms Alberto and Beryl. The shipwreck is a portion of a large wooden cargo vessel believed to be American or British, which apparently wrecked some time around 1870 to 1890. It was copper-sheathed, with fasteners of copper, iron, Muntz metal, and wood (trunnels or "tree nails"). It was probably one of hundreds of vessels participating in the global commerce involving forest products and other commodities harvested throughout the nineteenth century in northwest Florida. Like any shipwreck, it must be understood within the cultural systems of its time (Gould 1983, Lenihan 1983, Murphy 1983, Watson 1983). The dynamic environment of the Gulf shore resulted in greater exposure of the wreck after it was first recorded, but it was difficult to monitor due to its isolated location. The sea and sand then reclaimed the material evidence; the wreck disappeared in a little over two years. This article expands upon the original report of this shipwreck (White 1996:70-72) in order to describe the evidence, place the ship within its historical and socioeconomic context, and show the behavior of natural site formation processes in this very dynamic coastal environment.