PADDLE WHEEL WRECK
Average Depth: 65 ft. / 20 m
The Paddle Wheel, AKA the Paddlewheeler is a bit of a mystery for local divers. Nobody knows the origins — or even the name — of the ship, what a vessel designed for slow transport along calm, shallow rivers was doing that far offshore, or how — or when — it came to rest on the bottom of the Gulf. This wonderful and very interesting dive site is thirty miles offshore from Marco Island Florida.
It is obvious by it’s, still visible, super structure components that this wreck was a steamship with a single spool, stern mounted paddlewheel. At approximately 150 foot in length and 30 foot in beam it was of a typical size for those type of ships. What is more difficult to determine is whether it was a passenger carrying, cargo or utility ship.
Local divers and dive operators believe this ship was traveling from Ft. Myers or Tampa to the Dry Tortugas in the Florida Keys. They also believe it was carrying a cargo of brick for Ft Jefferson. The common consensus is the wreck is laying upside down on the bottom. The book “Shipwrecks Of The Sunshine State” by Michael C. Barnette concurs with these assessments and suggests that it may have also been carrying passengers on its fateful journey.
Although much of the ship has broken into pieces over time, the main paddle, boiler, and steam engine turbines remain intact. It is estimated that the ship sank somewhere between 1900 and the beginning of World War II.
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