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Cape Elizabeth Shipwrecks

Text by Chris Wallace

Images from the Maine Historical Society

Historically, the shores of Cape Elizabeth were a dangerous place where ships could be wrecked with even the most experienced sailors at the helm.

The pounding waves and gusty winds of a gale could disorient a captain and crew, pummel a ship, or force it into the rocks. Even when the captain had an accurate grasp of where his vessel and any rocky obstacles lay, it was no guarantee of safe passage.

A gale could swamp a vessel or rip it apart at a moments notice.

Lighthouses and buoys warned of the rocky ledges that stuck haphazardly into the ocean and the reefs that lay just beneath the surface of the water but avoiding these hazards was difficult. When combined with bad weather, the area was treacherous.

An estimated one hundred ships have gone down off the coast. Here is the story of five of those vessels.