A relic from America’s colonial past was recently pulled up from the Chattooga River in South Carolina earlier this summer. The remnants of a dugout canoe, possibly of Native American origin, is the second such boat of that age to be found in the river—the first was 17 years ago in 2004.
The canoe could be 200 to 250 years old, archaeologists from USC state said, according to The State; the truth of which radiocarbon dating will later determine. It was clearly carved out using metal tools such as hatchets or axes, indicating it postdates the arrival of Europeans. Tool marks are clearly visible in the wood, and a single square nail was found on one end of the vessel, the Chattooga Conservatory stated.
The previous canoe, dated to the 1740s, measured 31.5 feet in length. This latest find is about 10 feet shorter and cruder in construction. It is believed to have been more likely used to ferry passengers across the river than to navigate the rapids of the Chattooga.
It was found on the South Carolina side of the river in Oconee County, between two major rapids.
After the discovery, with the help of the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology and U.S. Forest Service, a team of volunteers set out to recover the canoe. They brought a makeshift cradle to ensure the aged wood structure remained intact for the extraction.
After traversing the rapids and reaching the find, they unpinned it and loaded it into the cradle, before beginning what would be a difficult trek up steep rugged slopes, out of the river corridor.
The Conservatory posted some exciting photos of the extraction on their Facebook page, letting fans know to stay tuned as, weather permitting, they removed the canoe the following week.
On Aug. 11, they posted an update with photos of volunteers laboriously hoisting the wooden artifact up the steep slopes.
“With the help of an industrious team of volunteers over the course of 4 days, the canoe is now ready to cross the river and land in Georgia near its ultimate extraction site,” the Conservatory captioned.
“Getting the canoe to this point was no mean feat—it required steadily moving the canoe hundreds of feet up steep and uneven terrain, while remaining cautiously vigilant to maintain the integrity of the canoe and the safety of our team.”
A member of the team, Eric Pierson, had devised a cable-and-anchor pulley system to facilitate the difficult work and ensure safety, they added.
The next phase of the journey would involve mounting the canoe and cradle to a custom floatation rig for one final crossing of the Chattooga.
The Conservatory reported they are planning the next chapter of the canoe’s lifespan as they negotiate with local entities where, in the not-too-distant future, American history buffs might peruse the canoe on public display.