Drought Unveils WWI Ships in Neches River: East Texas Reveals Hidden Maritime History

 Drought Unveils WWI Ships in Neches River : Low water in the Neches River in East Texas reveals five sunken ships. They’re emergency commercial ships from WWI. Due to metal shortages during the war, these ships were made from Texas wood. After the war, they were left in the Neches River near Beaumont. The finding highlights the state’s historic and prehistoric sites, revealed during droughts.

Born and raised on the Neches River, Bill Milner found the wrecks on August 18 near Beaumont. After documenting the bones, Milner informed Susan Kilcrease of the Ice House Museum about his findings. Kilcrease contacted Amy Borgens, the state marine archaeologist for the Texas Historical Commission. Borgens confirmed boats with GPS data.

“The ships in the Neches lost their purpose after the war ended,” Borgens said on Texas Standard. Due to being wooden, they were difficult to sell, and some were sold for just $1,000 to scrap yards. About 40 of these ships remain sunken in East Texas rivers, making it a major site for abandoned items in the U.S.Borgens said the finding was important, but the ships should stay put due to the high removal and maintenance costs.

In an August 24 news release, the Texas Historical Commission stated that the wreck, visible to boaters and river users, is one of many ships abandoned after World War I. Archaeologists found wrecked ships in a five-mile stretch of the Neches in 2019.

 Drought Unveils WWI Ships in Neches River

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The Neches River was a major route between the Gulf of Mexico and East Texas. The U.S. Drought Monitor indicates a severe drought has significantly reduced river water flow. “It’s decreased significantly,” said Michael Banks, Friends of the Neches River National Wildlife Refuge co-chair. Even though the river is low, ancient things have been found there.

Low water levels in Texas have revealed its secret past before. In 2011, a drought in Lake Travis revealed Anderson Mill’s historic remains. Archaeologists have learned about underwater places.On August 19, Kilcrease shared the find on Ice House Museum’s Facebook page, reaching over 330,000 people. She urged people to contact their local historical boards if they discovered similar items.

It’s best if people didn’t bother them. The Texas Historical Commission advises contacting the local county historical commission if you find sunken ships or other historical artifacts. They can send info to the correct agency.The ongoing drought highlights climate change’s impact on history and challenges water management and habitat protection.

Our Reader’s Queries

Was there a boat found in the Neches River?

Milner’s discoveries were actually part of a larger collection of abandoned ships from the World War I Emergency Fleet Corp. These vessels, constructed from Texas pine due to a metal shortage during the war, were built in shipyards along the Neches river and sailed across the Gulf and Atlantic. In total, over a dozen of these ships were left behind upstream of Beaumont.

What shipwreck was exposed by drought?

The Neches River in southeast Texas has recently uncovered a World War I shipwreck due to the scorching temperatures and drought. Bill Milner, who was jet skiing on the river, stumbled upon the remains of a large wooden boat. The discovery is a fascinating glimpse into history and a reminder of the many secrets that lie beneath the surface of our waterways.

Where did divers find First World War US shipwreck which has been missing since 1917?

On August 11th, a group of skilled deep-sea divers successfully located the lost USS Jacob Jones vessel, which was found 40 miles away from the Isles of Scilly coast. This particular vessel was one of six Tucker-class destroyers that were designed and constructed for the US Navy prior to the start of World War One. The team’s expertise and experience allowed them to locate the missing vessel with precision and accuracy.

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