Scientists have found oldest shipwreck in Alaska

Posted: Monday, July 28, 2003

KODIAK (AP) Scientists say they have found what they believe to be the wreckage of the Russian sailing vessel Kadiak, which sank in 1860 in shallow waters near Spruce Island.

''We have discovered what we believe to be a significant archaeological site,'' said Dr. Brad Stevens, who spearheaded the project.

If the scientists are correct that their discovery is the remains of the Kadiak, then that makes it the first shipwreck found from the Russian American colonial period, which also makes it the oldest shipwreck found in Alaska.

The Kadiak, piloted by Capt. Illarion Ivanovich Arkhimandritov, was a Russian American Company ship, based out of Sitka but home-ported in Kodiak. The Kadiak transported ice from Kodiak to San Francisco.

On March 30, 1860, the boat struck a rock shortly after leaving the harbor with a a load of ice, Stevens said. The buoyancy of the ship's cargo kept it afloat for four days.

The vessel eventually sank near Spruce Island.

Stevens began the project when he received the translated journals of Arkhimandritov from Anchorage-based archaeologist Mike Yarborough. The journals contained some bearings for the shipwreck, but due to differing methods for obtaining bearings, Stevens could not discern the resting place of the Kadiak. However, he was able to discern one bearing in Monashka Bay, and another that Arkhimandritov called Miller Point.

Stevens discovered that the point called Miller Point in the journals was actually Spruce Cape when he saw a map from the Russian period. He was then able to estimate the location of the ship.

The project was funded by donations from Kodiak Historical Society members.


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