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Mapping Florida’s mystery shipwreck

Underwater archaeologists in Florida will be spending two weeks mapping the site of a mystery shipwreck off Key Largo.

Named the “Marker 39” wreck for its location just two miles off the coast of Key Largo, the remains hold many clues that could help unlock its secrets. A buoy has marked the spot since 1863, which could help date the shipwreck because it could be when the ship ran aground that people realized the area was dangerous.

Iron fasteners held the wood together and from what is left, it looks like it was about 150 feet long. So far, archaeologists are hypothesizing it was a barge because of its long, flat deck. Smith predicts it dates back to the 19th century, when there was a bustling business of carrying cargo, including coal, lumber and manufactured goods, up and down Florida’s coast. It may have been a steam ship because of the iron rods and steam pipes that were found on it.

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