Shipwreck artifacts displayed at museum

Posted: Monday, August 24, 2009

JUNEAU - Residents and visitors still have time to see the Alaska State Museum's special summer exhibitions.

As part of September's First Friday art walk, artifacts recovered recently from the wreck of the Torrent, Alaska's oldest known locatable shipwreck, will be available for viewing.

The Torrent, a U.S. Army supply vessel, was wrecked and sank in July 1868 near Port Graham, on the Kenai Peninsula. In 2006, a team of four investigators led by Steve Lloyd started an expedition to find the remains of the shipwreck.

In October 2007, the team announced that it had found the remnants of the ship. Numerous metal objects were found on the wreck, and some are being conserved at the museum.

"A bronze mountain howitzer has been sent south for treatment, but we have numerous small items we are preserving and would like assistance in identifying," Museum Conservator Ellen Carrlee said. "These include fragments of armaments or ordnance and objects associated with sailing ships of the time. I would like to connect with people who are enthusiasts and collectors of this kind of history."

Since the objects are still being treated for conservation, they will be out only during the Friday evening artwalk.

The Torrent was built in 1852, and was about 150 feet long with two decks. The crew and passengers survived the wreck, but the ship was never salvaged.

Museum hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily through Sept. 22, although the museum will be closed Sept. 7 for Labor Day.

First Friday admission is free.

Regular admission is $5. Visitors 18 and under are admitted free of charge.

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