Kim Vanderbilt of NYC, sent this picture to us of a painting hanging over the fireplace of her parents home in Saunderstown, RI. Her ancestor was Belcher Tyler Thurlow, the captain of the vessel in the painting. The banner flying from the mizzen reads "Olive M. Thurlow". With the standard archaeological objectivity, we are trying to confirm that this is, in fact, a painting of the Olive Thurlow. We know that the Thurlow was built as a bark, as seen in the painting, and later re-rigged in to a barkentine, but there could still be a second ship named Olive M. Thurlow instead of Olive Thurlow. Still, we are probably 75% sure this is a color representation of the wreck lying 750 yards from the Cape Lookout Lighthouse.
Thank you, Kim!
At 8 o'clock, on the night of December 3rd,
1902, the barkentine Olive Thurlow dropped anchor in Cape Lookout
Bight about 1 1/2 nautical miles from the Cape Lookout Life-saving
Station. The Olive Thurlow was 149 feet long, 32.7 feet wide and
weighed 577 tons. She had been built in 1876 by the O.B. Rideout Company
and was owned by the Pendleton Bros. Co. The ship had been fighting a
storm off Bodie Island N.C. and had run with the lashing winds to seek
shelter in the Bight. During the storm Captain J.O. Hayes had accidentally
jammed his ankle into the steering quadrant and broken it just below the
With the captain having been taken to Beaufort
for medical attention, First Mate C. Florian, at the advice of the
Life-saving Station Crew, had readied the Thurlow for more bad
weather as best he could. This time the wind came out of the WSW and was
as bad as Keeper Gaskill (Life-saving station) had ever seen. On December
5th, 1902, the seas dragged the barkentine over toward the beach and
dashed her on a shoal. One man, John Chaukly, the Steward, was killed
when the mast and rigging fell on him. The rest of the crew floated in on
the cabin roof, flopping onto the beach "more dead than alive." The crew
was cared for at the Life-saving station and eventually went to Beaufort.
On May 12, 1995, after hearing of a "wreck" discovered 700 yards WSW of the Cape Lookout Lighthouse, we applied for and were granted a permit with the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, for "Exploration and Recovery" of site 0004CLS located at 34 37'.32N 76 31'.92W. The project goals were to survey, investigate, map and chart the site and to recover any endangered artifacts. The project was completed in October of 1996 and has yielded 50 artifacts and a wealth of information. Several interpretive displays have already been shown.
Click here to download a PDF of the END OF PROJECT REPORT for the Thurlow. (3.2 Mb Download)