KURE BEACH — There are hundreds of shipwrecks along North Carolina’s treacherous coast, and some, like those of the ironclad USS Monitor or the Blackbeard flagship Queen Anne’s Revenge, are famous.
But that of the hapless Civil War blockade runner Modern Greece, which sits just beyond the surf near Fort Fisher, is in many ways the most important.
The wreck, which was excavated 50 years ago, led to the creation of the state underwater archaeology unit that studies the other wrecks. It led to a state law to protect historic wreck sites from pilfering. It yielded such a large trove of artifacts that many have been used in experiments that advanced the tricky science of how to preserve historical treasures found underwater.
As the first of about 30 blockade runners sunk along the coast near Wilmington while trying to bring arms and vital commodities to the Confederate states, the Modern Greece has an iconic status in North Carolina and maritime history.
And this week — just in time for events marking the 150th anniversary of its sinking — thousands of artifacts from the Modern Greece were recovered from underwater. Read more.