Wrightsville Beach Park Ranger Shannon Slocum was making his usual morning patrol of the beach Monday, April 21, when he noticed something large in the surf just south of the Carolina Yacht Club.
Strong surf during the weekend beached the item, and upon closer examination Slocum saw it was a rectangular, rough-hewn timber, approximately 10 feet long. It was slightly bent at one end. Not wanting the timber to return to the sea where it may cause collateral personal or property damage, Slocum said he had a bulldozer from dredge contractor Weeks Marine move the timber to the dune line.
Slocum said his first reaction was the timber had come from one of the many wrecks off Wrightsville Beach and called Wrightsville Beach Museum of History director Madeline Flagler.
Flagler then called the North Carolina Underwater Archeology Lab at Fort Fisher and relayed her impression of the timber to assistant state archeologist and conservator, Nathan Henry.
“It looks like it has been in the water a long time and is probably completely saturated,” Flagler said. “You can see the way the water and sand have worn around the knots in the wood and there are some holes in it, which may indicate the way it was put together.”
From the information Flagler gave Henry, and considering the inventory of wrecks around Wrightsville, Henry stated the timber possibly dates back to the late 19th century.
“In that length of time it really could be from anywhere; it could even have come from around Figure Eight Island,” Flagler said. “Stuff like this washes up all the time but that is a really big one.”
Flagler said the museum does not have any room to house the timber but is waiting to find out if the underwater archeology lab plans to study it.
Calls to the underwater archeology lab were not returned by press time Wednesday, April 23.