Good News

After Irma, One Local Discovered An Historic Canoe Washed Ashore

It's practically buried treasure! Can you guess what it is?

Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc along the Florida coastline. But one good thing has come from the storm. It unearthed a canoe previously located underwater. And, due to boat’s craftsmanship, experts could easily tell it is an historic artifact.

The canoe is a dugout style, meaning someone carved it from a tree trunk. It has slots carved out where people could stand. Randy “Shots” Lathrop discovered it while out for a bike ride in Cocoa, Florida after the hurricane struck.

“I didn’t believe it. I was shocked,” Lathrop told NBC News. “I was happy because it made perfect sense to me that it would end up here. Any time we have any kind of a storm, certain parts of our coastline are just swarming with [people with] metal detectors because they understand that items wash ashore after hurricanes.”

But, they typically don’t expect to find something like this.

After finally getting it back to his house (this thing weighs hundreds of pounds), Lathrop called an archeologist to come see his discovery.

Now, the canoe is in the possession of Florida’s Division of Historical Resources. According to a Facebook post, the division now knows that the dugout is at least 50 years old, which gives it historical status.

How old is historic canoe?

Experts will do more testing to determine its approximate age.

“Initial assessments suggest the canoe is over 50 years old, which makes it historic in age, but the approximate age of the canoe is not yet confirmed,” the division said in a Facebook post. It continued, “Overall, its appearance and the presence of a cut nail suggests it is not a pre-contact canoe. In other words, it is maximum several hundred years old and minimum probably several decades old.”

Location could have helped preserve canoe

According to the Cherokee Heritage Center, this is a mode of transportation commonly used by Native Americans, and it was no easy feat to create one of these canoes.

“The dugout canoe was a mammoth undertaking,” according to the Cherokee Heritage Center’s website. “Made from hardwood trees, the boat typically needed to be about forty feet in length, big enough to seat twenty men. This meant a massive log that weighed several tons.”

The one Lathrop discovered is 15 feet long and nearly 700 pounds.

The Cherokee Heritage Center also noted that the maker coated the canoe in bear grease to waterproof the wood.

“This had to be done periodically to prevent the wood from drying out and cracking,” The CHC said. “Given the incredible amount of effort required to make a canoe, it was important to preserve it and take care of it.”

Plus, it’s been underwater for quite some time. So that could explain why the canoe remained intact all of these years.

Once the age and historic value is determined, the canoe will be put on display in Cocoa.

And after all of the destruction that came from the hurricane, it’s nice that it means the Cocoa residents and others can enjoy this find.

“It’s intriguing to the general public because it could have been you or anyone else walking down the road to have the same opportunity. It didn’t take a salvage team to get this,” Lathrop told NBC. “I think it struck a chord.”