The Ada K. Damon, April 2020Shipwrecks

Wreck of the Ada K. Damon

Ada K. Damon shipwreck photo from “Ipswich” by Bill Varrell.

Christmas, 1909 witnessed the heaviest storm in many years and is known by sailors on the Atlantic Coast as one of the most fateful days in the history of these waters. The “Great Christmas Snowstorm” struck the North Atlantic States hard as far south as Maryland. Philadelphia had 21 inches in 23 hours. The storm did its greatest damage in New England, where winds gusted to 72 mph in Rhode Island. The gale assumed terrific force on Christmas night and continued well into the following day. The list of shipwrecks and deaths was said to be as long as the Coast itself.

The Ada K. Damon, photo from the Trustees of Reservations archives.

Photo from the Trustees of Reservations archives. The First Annual Crane Beach picnic was held at the site of the wrecked Ada K. Damon

Capt. A. K. Brewster had sold his farm in York, Maine and invested everything in the sand schooner Ada K. Damon. The Ada K. Damon was a two-mast schooner built in 1875 at H. A. Burnham Boat Building in Essex, Massachusetts. She was 84 ft long and had a beam of 23.3 ft and a depth of 8.2 ft.

ada_k-ipswich_chronicle_1909

The Ada K. Damon in the 1920’s

The ship was wrecked during his first trip for a load of sand from the plentiful supply on Plum Island. On the 26th of December, 1909, she stranded 3.5 miles south southwest of the Plum Island Coast Guard station. The gale swept down from the northeast thick with snow, the anchors dragged and parted, and the ship wrecked on Crane beach at high tide. The Plum Island station crew visited the wreck on December 27th and found her full of water with the sea breaking heavily over her. Fortunately the ship crew were safely on shore. Captain Brewster declined assistance, not ready to admit defeat.

Ada K. Damon in the 1960's.

Ada K. Damon in the 1960’s. Photo courtesy Jean Feugill‎

 

ada-k-damon-plum-island-sandy-tilton

The same view of the Ada K. Damon in February 2020. Photo by Sandy Tilton

 

Ada K. Damon shipwreck

The Ada K. Damon, April 4, 2020. Photo taken from a trail above the beach. Little Neck is in the background.

Google map shows the Ada K. Damon. Zoom out to see its location.

ada_k_damon_townsend_immediate

Ada K. Damon immediately after wrecking on Crane Beach. Photo from “Sand Dunes and Salt Marsh” by Charles Wendell Townsend.

On December 28th, Capt. Brewster again declined assistance and told the station crew that he was going to sell the vessel to wreckers. On Jan. 2, he informed the lighthouse keeper that he could find no one to buy the wreck. On the following day the life-saving crew arrived to assist him in stripping the ship, and the vessel was a total loss. The unfortunate elderly captain returned to Maine penniless, seeking farm employment.

shipwreckdana2

Ada K. Damon

The Ada K.Damon with Steep Hill in the background. Photo 2020 by Sandy Tilton.

 
ada_k_damon_townsend_year_later

Ada K. Damon one year after wrecking on Crane Beach. Photo by Charles Wendell Townsend.

The marooned ship became an instant attraction, but less than a year later she was buried to the deck. After a year only upper sections of the frame were visible. The ship had not moved since it is well-anchored in the sand, and in the skeleton of the ship can often be seen offshore at very low tides. The sands of Crane Beach are slowly moving toward the mainland.

Photo by Bill Sargent, 2004, of the ship frame, which emerged from the sand after being buried for a century.

Photo by Bill Sargent, 2004, of the ship frame, which emerged from the sand after being buried for a century.

It has been determined by measurements that the wreck that emerged in 2004 is the Ada K. Damon. It bears a resemblance to an older ship skeleton that Charles Wendell Townsend photographed in Sand Dunes and Salt Marsh, and the then-recent wreck of the Ada K. Damon. The stern or bow of another ship, possibly the Edward S. Evelyth, lies nearby at the water’s edge, covered with green moss. Once at very low tide, I was able to wade into the water and observe the faint outline of a ship’s skeleton.

This was not the first tragedy to occur with the Ada K. Damon. The Plum Island Life Saving Station recorded the following for March 29 – April 9, 1893:

“The sunset patrol having discovered the body of one of the crew of the schooner Ada K. Damon on the beach, keeper had the beach patrolled and two days later another body was found. The patrol north from sunset to 8 o’clock, finding two bodies on the beach, took them up clear of the water and covered them over until morning. Early on the following day, while going for them with a team, found a third body on the beach and brought all three to the station, from which place they were taken to Provincetown for burial. The remains were those of three of the crew of the fishing schooner Ada K. Damon, who, while fishing in their dories, were separated from their vessel by a heavy snowstorm and drowned by the capsizing of their boats.”

ada-k-damon-hill-header[1]

The Ada K. Damon, 2013. Photo by Gordon Harris

 
Photo by Bruce Lord

2014 photo by Bruce Lord

 
Photo by Bruce Lord

2014 photo by Bruce Lord

Glenn Harris took this photo at Steep Hill Beach on July 16, 2014

Glenn Harris took this photo at Steep Hill Beach on July 16, 2014. Buried again, this was almost all of the ship that was visible.

The Ada K. Damon emerges again, 2016

ada_k_damon_john_mcgrath

Photo by John McGrath, July 2016

 
ada_k-frame_irene.jpg

The Ada K Damon was becoming visible again, August 2016. Photo by Irene Richard Van Schyndel

 
ada_k_damon_2016_irene.jpg

The Ada K Damon, August 2016. Photo by Irene Richard Van Schyndel

 
ada_k_irene

The Ada K Damon, August 2016. Photo by Irene Richard Van Schyndel

 
ada_k_little_neck_irene

The Ada K Damon, August 2016. Photo by Irene Richard Van Schyndel

 

Ada K. Damon, March 18, 2020

Ada K. Damon, March 18, 2020 (photo by Gordon Harris)

 

Ada K. Damon, March 18, 2020

Ada K. Damon, March 18, 2020. Photo by Gordon Harris

 

ada-k-damon-little-neck-sandy-tilton

The Ada K. Damon with Little Neck in the background. Photo by Sandy Tilton, March 2020

 

Ada K. Damon

The Ada K. Damon and Little Neck, April 2020. Photo by Maureen Smith

 

ada-damon-april-2020-maureen-smith

The Ada K. Damon is more exposed than ever in April, 2020. Photo by Maureen Smith

 

ada-k-damon-starboard

The Ada K. Damon, April 12, 2020. Photo by Gordon Harris

 

ada-k-damon-4-12-2020

The Ada K. Damon sitting on Steep Hill beach at low tide, April 12, 2020. Photo by Gordon Harris

 

Ada K. Damon

In April, 2020 the ribs of the Ada K. Damon were more exposed than ever, as well as what appeared to be a couple of blocks of mixed iron slag and stone ballast at either end.

 

Ada K. Damon, Ipswich

The Ada K. Damon was high and dry at low tide, April 2020. Photo by Gordon Harris

 

ada-k-high-tide

The Ada K. Damon at high tide, April 2020

 

ada-k-damon-plum-island-outdoors

The Ada K. Damon, June 2020. Image from the Plum Island Outdoors site.

 

ada-k-damon-Fabiano-Santos

Photo of the Ada K. Damon by Fabiano Lacerda Santos, August 2020

 

Photo of the Ada K. Damon

Photo of the Ada K. Damon by Fabiano Lacerda Santos, August 2020

September 2020:

The Ada K. Damon breaks up during a coastal storm and is scattered across the beach

Remnants of the wreck of the Ada K. Damon, late September 2020. Photo courtesy Trustees of Reservations

 

The remnants of the Ada K. Damon were scattered along the shore, September 2020

 

Photo courtesy of Plum Island & Beyond, September 2020

 

The anchor chain from the Ada K. Damon, photo courtesy of Plum Island & Beyond

 

September 2020; photo courtesy of Plum Island & Beyond

Read the report and plan by the Trustees of Reservations