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March 8, 2013

Storm uncovers Long Beach wreck

Storm erosion uncovers century-old shipwreck

The storm that swept across the sands of Cape Ann Thursday morning uncovered another piece of local maritime heritage — a shipwreck buried beneath Long Beach.

Brad Piece, proprietor of the Cape Ann Motor Inn, said Thursday he had seen the hull exposed from time to time in the past, most notably during the Blizzard of 1978 and the infamous Perfect Storm that hit Cape in 1991.

Pierce said throughout the years, people have picked away at the wreck, taking wood planks and brass bolts as souvenirs.

“My father made a picnic table out of some of the pieces,” said Gloucester resident Ron Muise, who was at the wreck site Thursday.

Pierce said the tides eroded about five feet of sand from the beach, and that erosion made the wreckage visible. He add that all of the sand makes its way back to the beach by the summer time, covering up the remains of the old vessel.

The origin of the wreck remains somewhat of a mystery, but it is more than 100 years old.

Pierce recalled the name as The Surprise, which was out of Wiscasset, Maine, and previous undated courtesy photos also bear the name Surprise.

But the late historian Edward Rowe Snow claimed in an undated and long faded Gloucester Daily Times article that the wreck actually belonged to a vessel called the Favorite, one that is commonly mistaken for the Wilster. Rowe alleged the wreck happened in the 1800s.

According to North Shore Community College, another possible outcome may be the Favorite of Wiscasset, which crashed on the beach during a snowstorm in 1839 and served as the inspiration for Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s famous poem “The Wreck of Hesperus.”

Archivists with the city also provided different names for the wreck and were unable to pin it to one ship.

“That’s the most I’ve ever seen it exposed,” said Stephanie Maltese, who has worked at the inn for about 10 years.

James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at jniedzinski@gloucestertimes.com.

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