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Record Drought Reveals Long-Lost Trading Ship In Mississippi River

A 19th-century trading ship was just found in Baton Rouge after a nasty drought initiated record-low waters along the Mississippi River.

Baton Rouge resident Patrick Ford discovered the ship in the middle of one of his routine searches for artifacts on the Mississippi riverfront.

'Holy Moly, I Think I Found A Ship!'

Ford, who regularly explores the Mississippi riverfront, knew almost immediately that he had found something previously covered by the river.

“This past Sunday I was out here looking and realized the rest of the shore had washed away, and there was an entire ship there,” Ford told local news station WBRZ. “I immediately texted friends and was like, ‘Holy moly, I think I found a ship, a sunken ship!’”

Soon after stumbling upon the remains, Ford got in touch with local news and experts to confirm his findings. He was later connected to Chip McGimsey, a state archaeologist.

Remains Of The Storm

McGimsey was able to confirm that Ford had discovered remains of the Brookhill shipwreck, an event that has interested archaeologists for some time.

The Brookhill ship, a trade vessel that was built in Indiana in 1896, sank in 1915 during a massive storm. Another ship, the Istrouma, sank in the same storm.

Another Chapter Of The Story

The remains of the Brookhill wreckage were actually uncovered in 1990 after an archaeology firm inspected and surveyed the area. But the Mississippi River's record-low water levels, brought on by the drought, have exposed unseen parts of the archaeological site. As in the past, this additional wreckage may help researchers learn more about boat building in the past.

“For the most part, there are not good documents on boat building, especially when you get back into the area of wooden boats,” said McGimsey, after confirming the findings.

The Brookhill Was A Rarity

McGimsey also commented on the value of Ford's discovery.

“[There is] a lot of individuality in these boats, and there are so few of them remaining," he said. "This is a rare example of one from around 1900.”

After connecting with McGimsey and local news, and having basked in the glory of discovery, Ford shared a message of hope for other amateur (and curious) explorers like him.

“Explore your surroundings – get to know where you live, what’s around beyond just what’s in front of you,” he said. “Take a walk, see what’s out there.”

Who knows what other old, remarkable artifacts Ford will find as the Mississippi River continues to recede? Only time will tell.

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