Always Another Shipwreck
by Ellsworth Boyd (View More)
Secrets, secrets, secrets! Why is it our government and other regimes simply call an incident or encounter “classified information” when they don’t want anyone to know about it? Denise Sharp, a historian from Brookeville, Maryland, says, “Their secrets are difficult to unravel unless you have the determination to follow every little clue that might lead to a cover-up.” That’s exactly what she did when discovering that the U.S. government and its military had hushed up the sinking of a transport ship during WWII.
In early days, when ships grounded near shore or became stranded on a rocky coast, there was neither Coast Guard nor means of communication to get help. The only rescue efforts came from the U.S. Lifesaving Service if there was a station nearby. Such was the case on October 11, 1896, when the schooner E.S. Newman ran aground in distressful circumstances.
Unless you’re from Alaska or Canada, chances are you’ve never heard of the SS Princess Sophia, named the “Titanic of the West Coast.” One of the worst tragedies to occur inside Alaska and Canada, the 2,320-ton, 245-foot steel hull passenger ship sank in late October, 1918. Yet, the sinking and loss of 353 lives received little publicity.
Lake George, a 32-mile-long by two-miles-wide body of water an hour’s drive north of Albany, New York, is an unlikely spot to find the oldest intact warship in North America. But history buffs know all about the roll this radeau, (a French word for raft) played in the French and Indian War, 1755-1763.
When President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a blockade of Confederate ports during the Civil War, April 19, 1861, he launched the “cat and mouse” war games in which ships were hellbent on outsmarting each other. Painted the color of a Hatteras fog to remain inconspicuous, while burning smokeless anthracite coal, a long, low “greyhound of the sea” could lose herself against a wooded shoreline. Then, like a rabbit from the bush, she would make her final dash for a protected harbor.
Hattie Wells image provided by SeaView Systems