Saturday, June 18, 2011

Local shipwreck artifacts donated to the museum

The Indian Rocks Historical Museum recently received some very unusual artifacts that literally came “out of the blue” – the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Jim Leatherwood, a retired school teacher, enjoys going to the beach with his metal detector.  Some of his finds over the past seven years have led him to believe that there is an as-yet-undiscovered shipwreck off our shores.
His finds include large keel pins, used in building wooden ships.  He found a heavy pin that is bent, evidence it has been under stress.  “That tells you it has been in a wreck,” he says.
The artifacts Jim has been collecting are not pricey jewels or coins, but they are rare finds that tell a story.  A piece of shell/coral conglomerate contains the remnant of a dinner plate, with a design still discernable.  Several nails in the cluster suggest that the plate was in a nailed box.
Numerous clues, such as the blacksmithing marks and nail head style, suggest that many of the items he has found date from the mid-1800s.
Most of the items were found after storms, along the shore in Indian Rocks Beach and Indian Shores.
“I found these things at Indian Rocks Beach and they belong to the community,” Jim says.  He was delighted to donate them to the museum, and we feel fortunate to receive them.
A few of the items are on display now, as a preview to the permanent shipwreck exhibit we are planning for the museum addition.

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