Newspaper photo of the Cumberland aground off Ft. Lauderdale
Army Corps of Engineers dredge CUMBERLAND
By Steven Danforth Singer
The seagoing hopper dredge Cumberland went aground off Ft. Lauderdale, June 24, 1931 (north end of present-day Galt Ocean Mile), supposedly on a pile of cement jettisoned from another vessel years before, though her remains are in shallow water and could have just as well grounded on the reef there (see photo of vessel aground). She was built in 1902 at Belfast, Maine, 200’ x 40.8’ x 20’, and was the last of the self-propelled, steam-class vessels in use by the Army Corps of Engineers. Deemed not salvageable as her bottom was breaking up, and the fact she was an older vessel, it was then abandoned. The wreck remained visible above water up until WWII, when it was used as target practice by pilots training at the Naval Air Station, Ft. Lauderdale. One of those pilots was former President George H. W. Busch.
We looked for the wreck in the 80’s, but much of the area was sanded in, and only saw some pieces of coal. Recently in 2021, we re-visited the area and found much of the wreck exposed, scattered over a large area among the reef. See attached photos.
I’ve attached a copy of an article from the newspaper The Republican Journal, of Belfast Maine, dated 8/28/1902, describing the dredge. I’ll presume much was likely salvaged from the wreck prior to WWII. Her wood hull has long since disintegrated or succumbed to the teredo worm. We’re trying to identify some of the scattered remains and hope to produce a site sketch of the site in the near future. Any new information will be added here.