We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

The Day the Johnboat Went up the Mountain

Stories from My Twenty Years in South Carolina Maritime Archaeology

Carl Naylor

Publication Year: 2012

Combining his skills as a veteran journalist and well-practiced storyteller with his two decades of underwater adventures in maritime archaeology, Carl Naylor offers a colorfully candid account of remarkable discoveries in the Palmetto State's history and prehistory. Through a mix of personal anecdotes and archaeological data, Naylor's memoir, The Day the Johnboat Went up the Mountain, documents his experiences in the service of the Maritime Research Division of the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology, a research arm of the University of South Carolina. Shared in a companionable tone, this insightful survey of Naylor's distinguished career is highlighted by his firsthand account of serving as diving officer for the excavation of the Confederate submarine H. L. Hunley in 1996 and the subsequent excavation of its victim, the USS Housatonic. He also recounts tales of dredging the bottom of an Allendale County creek for evidence of the earliest Paleoindians, exploring the waters off Winyah Bay for a Spanish ship lost in 1526 and the waters of Port Royal Sound for a French corsair wrecked in 1577, studying the remains of the historic Santee Canal near Moncks Corner, and searching for evidence of Hernando de Soto's travels through South Carolina in 1540. Naylor describes as well his investigations of suspected Revolutionary War gunboats in the Cooper River, a colonial and Revolutionary War shipyard on Hobcaw Creek, the famous Brown's Ferry cargo vessel found in the Black River, a steamship sunk in a storm off Hilton Head Island in 1899, and a mysterious cargo site in the Cooper River. Throughout these episodes, Naylor gives an insider's view of the methods of underwater archaeology in stories that focus on the events, personalities, and contexts of historic finds and on the impact of these discoveries on our knowledge of the Palmetto State's past. His narrative serves as an authoritative personal account of South Carolina's ongoing efforts to discover and preserve evidence of its own remarkable maritime history.

Published by: University of South Carolina Press


pdf iconDownload PDF (258.7 KB)
pp. 1-7


pdf iconDownload PDF (48.0 KB)
pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

pdf iconDownload PDF (42.5 KB)
pp. ix-x

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (48.5 KB)
pp. xi-xii

Maritime archaeology is a team effort. The stories told here result from the combined efforts of the members of the Maritime Research Division at the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology. In addition to their endeavors in the field, their hard work in finding funds, researching records, ...

read more

Twenty Years and Counting

pdf iconDownload PDF (49.0 KB)
pp. 1-4

On a blustery fall day in 1986, I walked into Buddy Line Divers in Mount Pleasant, where I was a staff instructor, and went straight to the shop’s bulletin board. Looking at the scuba course sign-up sheet, I noticed that few names appeared on the lists for my upcoming scuba courses. ...

read more

The Lewisfield—No, Two Cannon—No, Little Landing Wreck Site

pdf iconDownload PDF (217.8 KB)
pp. 5-21

It was October 1985, and sport divers Bobby Snowden, Steve Thornhill, and Don Ard were on the bottom of the Cooper River off Lewisfield Plantation. The three had read stories of Revolutionary War vessels being burned and sunk at the plantation and decided to look for their remains. ...

read more

Mud Sucks

pdf iconDownload PDF (166.3 KB)
pp. 22-41

As I struggled through the chest-deep mud that filled the old Santee Canal after nearly 150 years of neglect, I realized the past reveals its secrets reluctantly. They often hide in the most awful places. This revelation came as no sudden epiphany. It came after days in the thick muck, probing for the remains of canal boats and lock structures. ...

read more

The Day the Johnboat Went up the Mountain

pdf iconDownload PDF (190.6 KB)
pp. 42-54

We arrived at the Mulberry mound and village archaeological site on the Wateree River with our fourteen-foot johnboat, our four-wheel-drive Suburban, our Dodge Carry Van, and all the dive gear, scuba tanks, water pumps, dredge hoses, artifact screens, and dredges heads we could fit into the boat and two vehicles. ...

read more

Hobcaw Shipyard

pdf iconDownload PDF (147.4 KB)
pp. 55-68

Shortly after joining the SCIAA staff in 1987, I was assigned the task of researching early shipbuilding in South Carolina. Going through newspaper accounts, ship registers, deed abstracts, wills, estate inventories, and numerous other colonial and early state records, I came across a 1786 plat of a large shipyard. ...

read more

Dredging for the First Americans

pdf iconDownload PDF (115.6 KB)
pp. 69-78

Huge cypress trees rising from the waters of Smiths Lake Creek in Allendale County shaded us from the August sun as we prepared our scuba gear. On the opposite bank, an eight-foot alligator slithered into the water, surfacing no more than thirty feet from where we intended to enter the creek. ...

read more

The Upside-Down Wreck

pdf iconDownload PDF (136.6 KB)
pp. 79-90

Divers, anglers, boaters, canoers, kayakers, and persons who just like to explore their local rivers, bays, and creeks stumble onto all sorts of maritime relics. These “explorers” are having eureka moments over dugout canoes, barges, ferry vessels, old rice field gates, and, now and then, the odd shipwreck. ...

read more

Salvage License #32

pdf iconDownload PDF (84.6 KB)
pp. 91-107

State archaeologists cringe at the thought of dealing with salvage divers. They would rather eat glass. Archaeologists see these treasure hunters as human termites, devouring archaeological sites through their greed—a kind of blight on the scientific landscape of archaeological research. ...

read more

The Wreck of the SS William Lawrence

pdf iconDownload PDF (246.8 KB)
pp. 108-115

As I lowered the milk crate full of artifacts over the side of our vessel and watched it sink beneath the waves, I thought how strange it was to be returning artifacts to a wreck site. It is most often the other way around. Usually we retrieve artifacts from a site. ...

read more

Hobby Divers

pdf iconDownload PDF (306.1 KB)
pp. 116-132

Licensed hobby diver Doug Boehme’s artifact reports for the third quarter of 1994 were startling, even amazing. During those three months, he reported finding fifty-three whole projectile points (arrowheads and spear points), twenty-three broken points, thirty-one scrapers, two bannerstones, two drill points, ...

read more

Joe and the Alligator

pdf iconDownload PDF (123.8 KB)
pp. 133-138

We were on the Strawberry Wreck with a group of students in our underwater archaeology field training course when Joe Beatty had his first encounter with an alligator. The students had learned the proper methods of recording a shipwreck—measuring and drawing the frames, keel, keelson, planking, and fasteners ...

read more

Brown’s Ferry Vessel Arrives in Georgetown

pdf iconDownload PDF (126.2 KB)
pp. 139-148

As they had for hundreds of years, the citizens of Georgetown awaited the appearance of a vessel. Since its founding in 1729, this port city has looked seaward for arriving ships. Only this one was not coming by sea, but by truck. ...

read more

Those Darn Dugouts

pdf iconDownload PDF (195.1 KB)
pp. 149-157

The reporter’s question wasn’t all that unusual. He asked if we knew anything about a prehistoric dugout canoe recently retrieved from the Cooper River by a scuba diver. For decades boaters, anglers, and divers have been discovering long-lost dugout log canoes in the marshes, mudflats, and river bottoms of the South Carolina lowcountry. ...

read more

The Hunley, the Housatonic, and the Indian Chief

pdf iconDownload PDF (120.1 KB)
pp. 158-166

They say the only true measure of an archaeological endeavor is how much it enriches the cultural record—in other words, how much we learn about our past and therefore ourselves. Based on that criterion, the H. L. Hunley project has been a smashing success. ...

read more

The Mysterious French Cargo Site

pdf iconDownload PDF (86.4 KB)
pp. 167-172

Every now and again maritime archaeologists come across an underwater site that defies explanation, one that leaves them scratching their heads in sheer bewilderment. One such site is in the west branch of the Cooper River. ...

read more

The Cooper River Anchor Farm

pdf iconDownload PDF (149.7 KB)
pp. 173-179

What is it about old ship anchors? What exactly is their appeal as decorative items? I can see why a seafood restaurant would want a few of these barnacle-encrusted relics outside the premises, perhaps on either side of the front door. Should a prospective customer miss the forty-foot fiberglass lobster/crab/fish (pick one) on the roof ...

read more

Mowing the Lawn

pdf iconDownload PDF (113.1 KB)
pp. 180-186

Perhaps this would be a good place to discuss how maritime archaeologists find shipwrecks. The process starts with archival research. This means dreary hours in library stacks, historical society manuscript collections, public record offices, and newspaper archives and, today, online. ...

read more

Man Overboard—Not!

pdf iconDownload PDF (157.4 KB)
pp. 187-206

We were running out Charleston Harbor, pushed by a strong ebb. Our plan was to relocate the remains of the Union ironclad Keokuk with our magnetometer and, if possible, our side-scan sonar. This was in February 2001, and I was driving our offshore survey vessel, a twenty-five-foot C-Hawk with twin 115-horsepower Evinrudes. ...

read more

“Never Sausage an Artifact”

pdf iconDownload PDF (103.0 KB)
pp. 207-214

The headline in the Hilton Head Island Packet read, “Never Sausage an Artifact.” Below the headline was a picture of Chris Amer holding an empty, dented, and slightly crushed Vienna sausage can, its labeling worn from spending years (or perhaps only months) in the mud beneath Chechessee Creek. ...

read more

Sexy Wrecks

pdf iconDownload PDF (587.0 KB)
pp. 215-232

All shipwrecks are significant. This is a given in maritime archaeology. No matter its age or type, whether it’s prehistoric or historic, the remains of these long-lost vessels hold the potential for answering important questions about our past. It is a concept drilled into the skulls of undergraduate archaeology students pursuing the nautical side of that science. ...


pdf iconDownload PDF (116.9 KB)
pp. 233-248


pdf iconDownload PDF (593.9 KB)
pp. 249-258

E-ISBN-13: 9781611171341
Print-ISBN-13: 9781611171426

Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2012