Remnants of the William H. Sumner were once again revealed thanks to recent storms.
SURF CITY | Remnants of the William H. Sumner were once again revealed thanks to recent storms.
The Sumner ran aground off Topsail Inlet in 1919, according to N.C. Underwater Archaeology Unit shipwreck files. It is periodically visible around the 700 block of North Topsail Drive in Surf City.
Tropical depression Ana, which came through the area over the May 9 weekend, shifted the sand along Surf City Beach exposing pieces of the ship, said Surf City Town Manager Larry Bergman. Bergman has seen portions of the Sumner a few times in the past. He said “varying amounts” of the wreck are seen each time.
The best time to see the Sumner is at low-tide.
Archaeologists have known about the Sumner shipwreck for the last five decades, said Billy Ray Morris, deputy state archaeologist in charge of all shipwrecks in North Carolina.
It is interesting when “it pops up” since it isn’t often visible, Bergman said. He said it is still a novelty since after a while, you “kind of forget about it.” People like to observe it and imagine what the ship might have looked like, he said.
Archaeologists looked at the wreck Thursday to find out if any additional information can be discovered, specifically details on the construction of the ship, Morris said. He said he is interested in finding out more on the evolution of ship design and architecture, he said.
“There’s a lot of archaeological history in the ocean around us and we don’t always get to see that,” Bergman said.
The State of North Carolina claims all abandoned shipwrecks in the water. It is illegal to remove or damage any pieces. Over the years, the city hasn’t had many problems during dredging or tourist season — people who live nearby the site keep an eye on it, Bergman said.
The three masted schooner weighed 572 tons and was built in Camden, Maine, according to Underwater Archaeology Unit shipwreck files. The Sumner was on its way to New York when it was grounded and much of the ship was destroyed by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Morris’ team will continue to study the remnants while the Sumner remains visible.