Remains of Historical Vessels at Rest in the River

image of authorAbout the author: Kristen Skopeck is from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She is an Air Force veteran who joined EPA in 2007 to be a member of the Hudson River PCB dredging project team. She likes to spend her time reading, writing, watching movies, walking, and meeting new people.

go to EPA's Hudson cleanup site
In 2009 dredging began in the Upper Hudson River to remove sediments with PCBs. Read more.

Last week, a team of archaeologists and divers evaluated the remains of a late-18th or early-19th Century boat long submerged in the eastern channel of Rogers Island. Enough of the boat was intact to see that it had a distinctive centerboard keel slot technology that was an important innovation in early American shipbuilding. Divers used a small hydraulic dredge (similar to a vacuum) to further expose the vessel, screened the dredged sediment, measured the vessel, and took photos and video of the work. Afterward, the vessel was exhumed in pieces and added to a collection of other large debris, like tree stumps, that will ultimately be disposed of at a permitted landfill. Unfortunately, the boat’s deterioration and its coating of PCB-contaminated sediment prevented it from being brought to the surface and restored.

The entire PCB-removal project has been done in accordance with the National Historic Preservation Act, which states federal agencies must take into account the effects of their actions on any district, site, building, structure or object listed in or eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. So far, archeologists have found 10 sunken vessels that are being evaluated in the first phase of the project.

So, how did this boat end up submerged by Rogers Island? Fort Edward’s historian, Paul McCarty, said there is no way to know if the boat was put there for a reason or if it was a wreck, but the odds are that the boat was sunk in an accident and left underwater as a derelict. He hopes the underwater investigation and subsequent report will give some indication of what timeframe the boat met its demise and, maybe, help us understand why it happened.