Mystery of dugout canoe that washed ashore during Hurricane Irma solved

Ancient canoe could date back to late 1600s

By Clay LePard - Reporter

COCOA, Fla. - State officials released new information about a dugout canoe that washed ashore from the Indian River after Hurricane Irma. 

"The results were really exciting because they added mystery," said Julie Duggins, with the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research. "The results indicate that it dates to the late 1600s to the late 1800s. There's a low probability that it dates past 1930." 

The dugout canoe was discovered by Randy Lathrop while he was bicycling along Indian River Drive immediately after the hurricane. Lathrop scooped up the canoe before debris crews could mistake it for trash. Now, he can't believe how old the canoe is actually estimated to be.

"I'm flabbergasted," he explained.

Lathrop admits the canoe will be what he remembers most from Hurricane Irma. 

"Irma had a silver lining for me because I met a bunch of people who have similar interests," he added. 

 "It was in such amazing shape for having sat undisturbed for who knows how long," said Kevin Gidusko, with the Florida Public Archaeology Network. "So to find something that's mostly whole is pretty unique and prettying interesting and pretty important."  

Archaeologists believe the canoe could have been possibly used over a long period of time, given the modifications made to it. 

"We know it's likely historic, based on the radiocarbon dates," Duggins added. "We know there's wire nails, and some earlier nails in the wood could indicate the time it was made, or the long history of usage and modification over time.  The reason this one is interesting is because it has some of these features that aren't commonly seen on canoes, and that, combined with an early radio carbon date result, just makes it a mystery."

"This is cool," Cocoa Mayor Henry Parrish said. "This is history, Florida history and unbelievable. " 

The canoe has been transported to Tallahassee, where it will be inspected, stabilized and preserved with the hopes of bringing it back to the Brevard County community for people to see and enjoy. 

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