During a spring flood in 1974, a rescue party in search of two missing persons made an unusual discovery. While searching along the sandy banks of the Homochitto River south of Natchez, Mississippi, party member Jerry Haney noticed a large wooden object that had been partially exposed by the surging waters. Upon further investigation, he realized the wooden object was in fact a vessel in the form of a canoe. Though at the moment Mr. Haney did not fully understand the importance of his discovery, he did feel that it was worth keeping for further investigation. After the arduous task of freeing the canoe and transporting it to the nearest vehicle access, Mr. Haney and his associates placed it in storage at their local fire station.
Over the next several months, the small town residents were continually surprised at the attention garnered by their investigations into the canoe’s past. After contacting the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, they were advised to have several tests done on the vessel. Samples were sent to The University of Georgia’s Geochronology Lab for carbon dating, and also the US Forest Service for species determination. The results showed that the wood from the canoe was Bald Cypress and had been harvested in approximately 1465 A.D., which proved it was of Native American origin.
These findings meant that this was not only one of the oldest boats ever discovered, it was also strikingly well-preserved. Following this realization, the Department of Archives contacted Senator Thad Cochran, who felt that the discovery was important enough to confer with the Smithsonian Institute about preservation and care methods, which were used to stabilize the canoe and protect from pests or decay. Over the next several years, newspapers, magazines, radio shows, universities, museums, and Native American tribes from all over the country came to view and study this rare artifact. Many interested parties made offers to purchase it, but Mr. Haney decided to keep the canoe. Over the years it gradually faded out of the spotlight and was all but forgotten. Upon Mr. Haney’s passing, it was handed down to his son and subsequently stored in a garage where it sat for two decades. Luckily, in the spring of 2014, the family decided it was time to pass this piece of history along to a new owner. Oxford Trading Post is proud to give the world a chance to view this amazing artifact once again.
The Natchez Canoe remains to date one of the most intact, well-preserved, and well-built prehistoric watercraft ever discovered. Hewn from a single log using stone tools, it measures 13.75 feet long, two feet wide, and 18 inches deep. Though missing a small section of one end, it is estimated to be 90% complete. The wood is surprisingly sturdy and solid to have lain in the ground for over 500 years. The canoe was expertly crafted with a flattened u-shaped bottom that would have allowed for at least two passengers and cargo. Another interesting feature is the extended platform at the end with its large notch (perhaps even originally a hole) of unknown use. This could possibly have been used for mooring purposes or in conjunction with steering or propulsion tools such as a push pole or paddle.
For sales inquiries and further information, please contact Brock Smith at:
Oxford Trading Post OxfordTradingPost.com
709 N. Lamar Blvd. 662-801-1786
Oxford, MS 38655 firstname.lastname@example.org