Wood from canoe unearthed by Irma estimated to be more than 300 years old
Randy Shots Lathrop(COCOA, Fla.) — A historical canoe was unearthed by Hurricane Irma from the Indian River in Cocoa, Florida, along what locals have dubbed the state’s “Space Coast” for its proximity to the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
“As soon as I saw it, I knew exactly what it was,” Randy Lathrop, who came across the canoe on the side of the road during an early-morning bike ride, told ABC News in September of his unusual discovery after the storm struck.
Archeologists have now determined the wood used to make the canoe is most likely more than 300 years old.
The results from their radiocarbon dating indicate a 50 percent probability the wood is from 1640 to 1680 A.D. However, there is a 37.2 percent probability the wood dates between 1760 to 1818 A.D. and an 8.6 percent probability the wood is from 1930 A.D. or later.
“It is important to note that this gives us the probability of when the log used to make the canoe died or was cut down,” Sarah Revell, a spokeswoman with the Florida Division of Historical Resources, wrote to ABC News.
The 15-foot-long canoe has interesting features like paint and wire nails, which add to the mystery of its age.
“Cut nails were first in production in the early 19th century so that helps to indicate it is a historic canoe,” Revell explained when it was first found.
Revell listed possible explanations for the age ranges of the wood.
First, the canoe could have been made in the 19th or 20th century, but from an old log.
Second, the canoe was made in the 17th or 18th century, was used for many, many years, and it was modified over time, i.e. the addition of the wire nails.
Third, even though the probability is lower, the canoe was built recently during the 20th century.
The canoe was extracted from the pond where it was being held for safekeeping Thursday. It is now in Tallahassee for more testing.
“Our expert staff will begin the process of stabilizing and preserving the canoe so that it can eventually be displayed locally for the Brevard area community and all Floridians to enjoy and learn from,” Revell wrote.
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