New archival research has revealed the identity of an unknown shipwreck off the Connecticut coast.
There are more than 100 historic shipwrecks in Long Island Sound by most accounts, but one particular wreck that was discovered by divers seven years ago off the coast near New London was initially a mystery. Only a few artifacts remained from the wreckage, which made it impossible to identify the ship.
“It's a big pile of coal and then a couple of little artifacts scattered through them,” said Taylor Hartz, who reported on the shipwreck for The Day newspaper. “Nothing had a name on it, nothing had any type of number that would have identified what era it may have come from.”
But Hartz says that last month, the diver who discovered the wreck, Mark Munro, came across a Naugatuck Daily News article from 1898 that describes an unnamed ship sinking.
Munro then went to the Public Library of New London to search the archives of The Day and found a detailed account of the shipwreck that finally revealed the identity of the vessel.
“It’s called the Oscar C. Aiken, it was a 74-foot-long schooner headed to Newport, Rhode Island,” said Hartz. “It was carrying coal. It was running through a gale and it struck a rock near Plum Island, New York, that wrecked its rudder, and then it sunk off the coast.”
According to a report from The Day on Oct. 25, 1898, the captain and crew of the Oscar C. Aiken made it safely to shore in a small boat and watched the schooner sink off the coast of Goshen Point, what is now Harkness Memorial State Park.