The Shipwreck |    Dive Site Conditions
Historical Background   |    Salvage (if any)    |    Sources

Albert Gallatin

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Vineyard Sound

Description: U.S. Revenue Cutter; Iron Hulled,
Dimensions:   length - 142 ft. ,    width - 23 ft. ;    depth - 9 ft.
     Tonnage:     gross - 250 ,         other - Displacement - 210.
  Propulsion:    Primary - Steam, single propeller;
- topsail schooner rig

  Machinery: 2 cylinder compound steam engine; (1887) received new boiler in NewYork

The Shipwreck

   Date Sunk: January 6, 1892.
           Cause: Stranded.
      Location:Manchester, northwest side of Boo Hoo Ledge.
Coordinates:    Latitude, 42o - 33' - 50"N.  Longitude,70o - 44' - 52"W .
    The morning of the sixth was overcast but clear as the Albert Gallatin prepared to leave Kittery, Maine, enroute to Provincetown, Massachusetts. Two of her complement of seven officers were missing otherwise it was just another, of hundreds, of patrols she had made on her station between Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Holmes Hole, Massachusetts.
    At 8:50AM, on a southerly course, she passed the Salvages, a cluster of ledges off Cape Ann. At 9:55AM the weather became thick and soon thereafter snow began to fall. Intending to make the safety of Gloucester before visibility deteriorated, the steamer's course was changed. At 11:00AM land was sighted, the engines stopped and a sounding of 12 fathoms taken. The Pilot, thinking he was off Kettle Bottom Island, made a course change due East for Eastern Point.
    But it was here that the mistake was made. What the pilot thought was Kettle Bottom Island was in fact Great Egg Rock. At 11:15 the Cutter struck hard on Boo Hoo Ledge. All attempts to free her were in vain. Soon, pounding seas carried away her skylights and she began to fill. As the vessel rolled her smokestack toppled to starboard striking the ships Carpenter, Mr. J. Jacobson, killing him instantly. Captain Gabrielson order his men to the boats and all remaining hands got off without incident, making landfall in a rocky cove at Eagle Head.
    By 4:30PM the storm had subsided sufficient to see that the vessel had broken in two and was completely submerged.

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Dive Site Conditions

    Depth in feet:   maximum - 50 ;    minimum - 10 .
Visibility in feet:     average - 25 .

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    Salvage attempts have reduced the steamer's hull to little more than scattered frames and plates over broken ledge, crevices and rocks. As with all New England dive sites, visibility is a tricky subject, however most reports indicate no more than 30 feet. The amount of algae growth will be dependant apon the time of year and the amount of Sea Urchins. New England's Legacy of Shipwrecks, Keatts, 1988, reported the wreckage free of growth, in effect an urchin barren. However with increased commercialization of the marine invertebrate it's unknown whether those observations still apply.
    Artifacts Recovered include a deck prism, used to transfer sunlight into below deck spaces. The brass letter "G" from Gallatin's hull and a sword corroded into its scabbard.

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Historical Background

Constructed:   year - 1871 ;    where - Buffalo, N.Y.
                     builder - David Bell
Construction details: Iron Hull, Mahogany Decks
Crew: 39 ;     Master: Capt. Eric Gabrielson
Owners: United States Revenue Cutter Service
Home or Hailing Port: Boston, Massachusetts
Former Name(s), date(s): .
Official number:            .   Country: U.S.A.
Other Comments:
* - Armed with 2, 6 pound, brass "Whitworth" carriage guns, mounted in a broadside.
* - Cruising Grounds - From Portsmouth, N.H. to Holmes Hole, Mass.
*- Nov. - Dec. of 1881 the cutter recieved a $10,000 overhaul.
* - The Albert Gallatin was considered one of the United States Revenue Cutter Service's most able seagoing vessels. In her career she saved at least $50,000,000 worth of shipping from total destruction.
* - Captain Gabrielson served in the Spanish American War as a volunteer naval officer. He commanded the Revenue Cutter Dexter when that vessel went to the aid of the City of Columbus which wrecked January 18, 1884 off Gay Head, Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, with the loss of 99 lives, mostly women and children. * - The Gallatin was the first Revenue Cutter lost since the end of the Spanish American War.

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    The February 27th edition of the New York Times reported the Government preparing to investigate charges of fraud in connection with the sale of the wreck for salvage. "Amoung the bids received were two reporting to be from the same firm". One of which was the highest of all. Notice was sent of it's acceptance to which their reply stated that if such a bid had been received then it was a forgery. A Nova Scotia wrecking company, the existence of which could not be found, made the next highest bid. The next in the line of bids was from the first wrecking company.
    However subsequent reports state that two months after the sinking, the Collector of Customs at Boston transferred title of the Albert Gallatin to three Boston men, who inttended to salvage her. Prior to the disaster the steamer had been valued at $50,000. The winning bid was $679.

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MapTech Mapserver
MBUAR; File Number MA-8237
New York Times; January 7, 1892
New England's Legacy of Shipwrecks; Keatts, 1988
Merchant Vessels of the United States; 1877
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   These files are under construction. Any information, specifically dive site related, would be greatfully appreciated.  

Send comments to: Chris Hugo

Copyright 2000 by Christopher C. Hugo
Massachusetts Board of Underwater Archaeological Resources
All Rights Reserved