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Schooner in the Sand, Michigan Historical Museum

Unlocking the Secrets of a Great Lakes Shipwreck
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Schooner in the Sand Home Page

A Shape in the Sand

An Earlier Discovery

What Did the Ship Look Like?

Learning from Artifacts and Documents

The Artifacts

Ports of Call

World Market

Unanswered Questions

Time Line

Excavation: Digging into the Wreck

The First Excavation

Archaeologists and ECU students work on the excavation of the schoonerArchaeologists dig for information. They are as interested in where an artifact is found as in the artifact itself. Those who worked at the Millecoquins site were pleased to find the hull nearly intact and most of its contents undisturbed. Faculty and students from the East Carolina University (ECU) maritime history program in Greenville, North Carolina, excavated the ship in 1991 and 1994. 

 In 1991, a crew of ten from ECU worked on the Millecoquins wreck for ten days. The work began by uncovering the full length of the hull with the help of a backhoe. Then the crew worked by hand, excavating the small forecastle (or fo'c'sle) and about half of the stern cabin. Out Board Profile of Wreck by C.T. McCutcheon, Jr., October 1991, for Association for Great Lakes Maritime History Both of these areas, particularly the stern cabin, yielded more artifacts than expected. The archaeologists measured the ship and documented its construction with photos, sketches and notes. Ted McCutcheon used their measurements to make detailed drawings of the ship. This drawing shows the out board profile of the wreck including the stern and the quarter-deck bulkhead.

In working along the edge of the schooner's cargo hold, the crew encountered densely packed boxes and barrels. Crew leaders decided that they should leave a more thorough investigation of the hold for a later excavation. The crew reburied the site to protect the hull and preserve its remaining contents for future researchers.

Further Investigation

In 1994, a five-person crew returned to the Millecoquins wreck to focus on its cargo hold. The members excavated 28 barrels. A number were empty, but others contained the remains of two kinds of fish. Again, organic materials, including the grass used for dunnage (padding used to protect cargo) between barrels, were well preserved.

This crew also had enough time to excavate a storage cabinet in the stern cabin. It yielded another trove of artifacts: dishes and eating utensils, an intact stoneware jug and a handbell. Again, the crew members reburied the wreck when they finished working on the site.

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