This Virginia state park is filled with shipwrecks to explore
The last thing you'd expect to find in the quaint, peaceful, oceanside Kiptopeke State Park would be a mass grave of rusted ships, but if you stand on the old ferry pier in the Chesapeake Bay, that's exactly what you'll see. There are dozens of sunken concrete ships a few hundred yards offshore-- but how did they get there? Naval disaster? A terrible storm? As it turns out, the rows of shpwrecks were very intentional, and done with good reason.
Back in the day, the only way to get across the Chesapeake River was to board a ferry; this was pre-bridge/tunnel. In the 1940's, the ferry terminal was relocated from Cape Charles to Kiptopeke. There was one tiny little problem with the new location, though... the bay's Eastern shore is notoriously exposed to the elements, which can get really rough when a storm rolls in. Thankfully, the federal government proposed a plan to allieviate the problem: take some of their out-of-commission concrete ships, leftover from World War II, and sink them in a line in the harbor to form a barrier.
There was a surplus of concrete ships because steel was in short supply during the war-- it was needed to build tanks, planes, and other military vehicles. You can't really build a tank out of concrete, but you can build a ship from it, and so shipyards began building ships from the material-- these were used mostly for commodities trade and storage. Actually, the Army sank a few near the beaches of Normandy just before D-Day to serve as a breakwater, much like the ones at Kiptopeke.
Even though the ferry is not there anymore, the ships are almost more useful sunken. Not only do they protect the ferry pier from damaging waves, they also provide a place for underwater plants to grow, and a habitat for fish and other aquatic creatures to hide out and live. Kayaking or canoeing out to them is a quick adventure that provides endless exploration opportunities- and excellent fishing, to boot.
Here are some other rad shipwrecks you can visit right here in America!
Header via Flickr/vastateparksstaffRoadtrippers, a great resource for anyone interested in travel.
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