Heritage, Volume 14, Number 1, Winter 1996 Page: 15
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Aransas Project, which consists of magnetometer
surveys and mapping of two shipwrecks
and several miscellaneous sites in
that area. As with all SUAS projects, there
will be no collection or excavation. The
first wreck is the Baddacock (41NU282), an
ocean-going tug that sank in a major storm
on November 20, 1920, while trying to
hold a barge off the jetties. Initial investigation
in May 1995 fixed her exact location
and confirmed that much of the tug
(length 142 feet, beam 28 feet) is exposed,
some parts protruding as much as 12 feet
from the 17 feet bottom.
The second wreck is theJohn Worthington
(41AS88), an Esso tanker that had been
torpedoed off the Brazilian coast on May
27, 1943, and limped back to Galveston
with a gaping hole in her side. Deemed
unworthy of salvage, she had been stripped
in Port Aransas and was bound for Corpus
Christi to be scrapped. However, it was
decided the huge (447 feet length, 60 feet
beam) vessel would be too great a danger to
navigation if she sank on the way, so she
was pushed up against San Jose Island in
the Lydia Ann Channel and gradually submerged.
Other maritime sites slated for
SUAS investigation are the 1800's lighthouse,
the Shellbank Island Civil War Fort
(41AS82), the Morgan Line causeway and
terminal, and Mercer's Wharf of 1862.
Most large-scale underwater archaeological
work performed in Texas in recent
years has been the mitigation of submerged
sites by the Galveston District, U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers. For example, the wreck
of the General C.B. Comstock (41B0171)
was found in 1988 under one to two feet of
mud during construction of a new rock
jetty by the entrance to the harbor at
Freeport (James 1991:1). The unique
wooden-hulled, copper-sheathed Corps of
Engineers hopper dredge burned and sank
in 1913 and was largely forgotten until
discovered directly in the path of the jetty.
She is valuable both as a specimen, since no
other wooden ships of this type and vintage
survive and plans are scarce, and as a source
for study of harbor improvement and channel
management methods (ibid:9).
Excavation of the wreck was concentrated
in the bow area, the extreme stern
area and intact iron propeller, and a portion
of the forward hopper as most of the
vessel's stern half was already covered by
jetty rock. A site map made with the
SHARPS system showed the run of the
hull, expressed mostly by ragged edges of
(between the Texas
and the Southwest
divers to investigate
historic wrecks under
while helping to
preliminary data on
copper sheathing, as well as various intact
features and artifacts (ibid:58). Limited artifact
collection yielded various structural
and mechanical parts, such as iron gears,
pulley frames and wheels, chain plate rods,
and rider and hanging knees, brass fasteners,
and the brass gudgeon (ibid 77-84). No
personal effects were found, though from
part of a steam radiator, several feet of
copper conduit, and most of the nameplate
from a galley stove, we can see that the
Comstock's crew was provided with modern
conveniences (ibid: 106-7).
Another very important Corps of Engineers
investigation was that of the 1,210foot
long, 892-ton Civil War wreck USS
Clifton (41JF65), which lies 50 feet from
the west jetty in 10-15 feet of water. This
former Staten Island ferry was purchased by
the Union Army in 1861. After her famous
capture by Dick Dowling at the Battle of
Sabine Pass, she served as a Confederate
blockade runner. She was burned to prevent
recapture when she ran aground while
leaving the pass on March 21,1864 (Arnold
1989:13). Jetty repair in the 1930s had
already damaged the wreck (ibid: 10).
Interesting data collection work was
The location of the wreck of the steamer Mary is shown above near the present-day city of Port Aransas.
HERITAGE * WINTER 1996 15
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 14, Number 1, Winter 1996, periodical, Winter 1996; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45404/m1/15/: accessed April 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.