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February 17, 2013

Blizzard of 2013 unearths shipwreck of 1894

SALISBURY BEACH, Mass. — On April 13, 1894, the schooner Jennie M. Carter smashed on the sands of Salisbury Beach, its crew gone while its cat remained curled up on the captain’s chair.

Sunk as the result of one of the worst storms of the 19th century, the broken bones of the 130-foot, three-masted vessel are now more visible, further exposed through the sand after the sea ravaged Salisbury’s shoreline during the weekend blizzard.

“You can usually see it when there’s a low, low tide, but after this storm it would be more visible,” said Cassie Adams, the hostess at Salisbury Beach’s Seaglass Restaurant. “The beach lost a lot of sand in this storm.”

Playing on Salisbury Beach as a child, Adams hadn’t been aware that the wooden stubble peeking up in the sand during very low tides was a 139-year-old sunken ship.  “I never knew it was a shipwreck until someone told me about it,” Adams said. “Our patrons at the restaurant comment on it when it’s visible.”

Other local history buffs knew of the famed shipwreck and its lore, according to Salisbury Historical Society secretary Beverly Gulazian. When the Jennie Carter went down due to foul weather, she was carrying granite, Gulazian said, and after the ship was lost, its cargo was salvaged.

“The granite was off-loaded,” Gulazian said. “And it was used in a number of places around the area.”

The tale of the Jennie Carter and Salisbury’s other shipwrecks are also well chronicled by Salisbury historian Carolyn Sargent in her book, “Salisbury History.”

Built in Newton, Md., in 1874, the ill-fated, three-masted schooner was a 296-ton vessel with a 33-foot beam, drawing 9.8 feet of water, according to Sargent. But in April 1894, loaded with a cargo of stone, the Jennie Carter, her crew and Captain Wesley T. Ober ran into trouble 40 miles southwest of Highland Light on Cape Cod in the midst of “one of the worst storms in 30 years,” Sargent wrote.

Details for this story were provided by the Newburyport (Mass.) Daily News.

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