Research and Projects

Research and Projects Committee
Bill Utley, Chair; Bob Hayes; Rich Eilers

NANSEMOND GHOST FLEET

LOG BOAT REGISTRY

See: Vernacular Watercraft in the Mid-Atlantic United States: The Archaeological Society of Virginia’s registry of Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia logboats by H. Robert Hayes, Mary K. Hayes and John D. Broadwater, INA Quarterly, 47, 1/2, Spring/Summer 2020, pp. 10-15. (click on link to view the article)

Log-built boats are a significant part of the rich maritime history of the Chesapeake Bay, its tributaries, and the natural inland waterways of Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. The Maritime Heritage Chapter of the Archaeological Society of Virginia has embarked on an ambitious project to create a registry of the single-log dugout canoes and multi-log hulled boats of the Mid-Atlantic region. The goal of the registry is to provide a searchable database of historical information and technical data (i.e., dimensional measurements, wood type, construction/preservation methods, etc.) to allow for comparative studies on how these vessels evolved over time.

Since early 2019 the Registry Team has been busy developing data entry fields for the registry database, and searching state and national data repositories, visiting museums, and reviewing published works to find and document logboats. To date, over 160 logboats have been cataloged. The team is also able to provide field evaluations of logboats reported by members of the public.

If you are on the water and find what you believe is a logboat, we ask you to:

  • Leave it alone; do not remove it.
  • Using your cell phone, take a picture and note the location using your phone GPS.
  • Take some notes: waterway, site conditions, is it a single or multi-log
  • Provide your information to:
  • Your State Archeology office
  • Our Registry Team.  We are:

Virginia Maritime Archaeology

We believe that a comprehensive history of Virginia must include frequent references to the vast and intricate maritime system that has existed in The Chesapeake Bay and Virginia since prehistoric times. From Native American watercraft to the earliest voyages of European exploration, to humble beginnings at Jamestown, to commercial expansion in the 18th century and beyond, ships and seafaring played a major role in Virginia’s development. Yet Virginians have been slow to embrace this connection with the sea. Very few underwater archaeology projects have taken place in the waters of the Commonwealth.

This is in spite of the fact that Virginia’s waters are vast and are known to contain literally thousands of shipwrecks. Virginia-owned lands include roughly 2300 square miles of submerged bottomlands—an area larger than the entire state of Delaware!—and more than 5000 miles of shoreline. A study during the 1980s identified approximately 2000 shipwrecks in Virginia waters, just up to the year 1925.

The primary goal of the ASV Maritime Heritage Chapter is to locate, study, and protect submerged archaeological sites in Virginia waters through cooperation between professional and avocational archaeologists and other interest citizens. This effort will be headed up by our Research and Planning Committee. Both divers and non-divers can make important contributions to this goal.

This website will serve as a source of information on the chapter’s plans and activities and how to get involved, as well as provide information for further study. The most useful publications on Virginia maritime heritage include the following (click on the highlighted links to learn more) publications:

“Contributions From Underwater Archaeology to a More Comprehensive Understanding of Virginia History,” by John D. Broadwater, in The Historical Archaeology of Virginia from Initial Settlement to the Present: Overview and New Directions. Archeological Society of Virginia, 2017. Buy it here.

An Assessment of Virginia’s Underwater Cultural Resources, Survey and Planning Report Series No. 3. Available from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.

“Underwater Archaeology in Virginia: The Missing Link,” by John D. Broadwater, in The Archaeology of 18th-Century Virginia (ASV No. 35), Available from the Archeological Society of Virginia.

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