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18 Feb 2015

This week's radical weather further uncovered a piece of history on our northern beaches across from the Whalehead in Historic Corolla community. The treacherous waters off the coast of the Outer Banks have claimed up to 2,000 ships since reporting first began in 1526 after a large vessel sank off the coast of the Cape Fear River. The shifting sandbars off Hatteras Island are partially responsible for the many ships lost while making their voyages to the New World. Rough waves and unpredictable currents, while a nightmare for sailors, has made Hatteras Island a mecca for fishing and water sports such as: kite boarding, surfing, and windsurfers. 

This particular wreckage was initially unearthed in 1997 and identified as the "O'Keefe" by North Caroline's Underwater Archaeology department. The shipwreck was named after Charles O'Keefe who first discovered the remains in the late 1990's. The wreckage has been speculated to be part of the Metropolis steamship which sank off the coast of Corolla in 1878. Further historical records will have to be examined to identify the origin of this particular ship. 

David Stick, Outer Banks Historian and Author, spoke about the difficulties this ship may have encountered during the dedication of the Historical Marker granted to the Metropolis wreckage " … combination of unfortunate events leading up to the wreck: the location, which was exactly halfway between two life saving stations; the poor condition of the vessel due to neglect by the owners; the fact that a surfman on his watch passed by the site of the wreck not more than a few hours before the ship ran aground; the station keeper running out of powder used in the gun to fire rescue ropes to ships in distress; the raging storm which made conditions impossible to launch the surf boats, and difficult to drag the life saver's beach cart three miles over flooded beaches - all combined to doom many of the passengers and crew of the Metropolis to a watery demise. " 


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