The unprecedented drought in the west has led to falling water tables, which have exposed another ancient item.
Officials have dubbed the rusting corpse of a World War II-era Higgins boat that was used to take soldiers into combat and onto foreign beaches as the “Ghost Boat.” It first appeared in the shallows of Lake Shasta last September. This is the first year when the levels have dropped enough to allow for a complete excavation of the ship.
This boat appeared in low water of Shasta Lake. It is marked '31-17' confirming it as a boat assigned to the Attack Transport USS Monrovia. This ship was Patton's HQ during the invasion of Sicily. The circumstance of its sinking remains a mystery. pic.twitter.com/y7foKWbExt
— Shasta-Trinity NF (@ShastaTrinityNF) October 9, 2022
Who knows how it got there, but it’s been buried for decades in the depths of California’s biggest reservoir.
On Sunday morning, US Forest Service employees from the Shasta-Trinity national forest posted photographs of the historic discovery on Facebook, along with the caption, “The circumstance of its sinking remains a mystery.” The photos show the artifact sitting on the broken ground of the dried-up lakebed. The ramp’s painted numbers reveal the boat’s former affiliation with the Attack Transport USS Monrovia, which served as General George Patton’s headquarters during the 1943 Sicilian occupation.
According to the official statement, the ship was deployed in the assault of Tarawa and “sank in shallow water during that invasion,” but was subsequently rescued. “Eisenhower also was aboard this ship at that time, and it went on to a further six D-Day landings in the Pacific,” the authorities stated. According to NavSource, a volunteer-run history site, the ship was classified as an assault transport in 1943, received seven combat stars during the war, and was sold for scrap in 1969.
Even still, the famous ending of the USS Monrovia doesn’t explain how the small Higgins boat ended up at the bottom of Lake Shasta. On its way to a museum in Nebraska, where conservators will strive to restore its “weathered ‘battle weary appearance,'” it is now in storage.
The boat is the most recent in a string of odd artifacts salvaged from drying western rivers. Three sets of human remains, perhaps connected to mob killings, and another boat from the Second World War were were found in Lake Mead, the biggest reservoir in the United States.
Meanwhile, climate change is likely to exacerbate the drought in the future years, further stressing already-depleted water supplies. Approximately half of the American west is under extreme drought, according to the US Drought Monitor, and scientists are worried that there will not be a strong enough rainy season to make up for the extended periods of dryness.
More secrets may be uncovered if the mud were to be cleaned. Officials are still piecing together what happened to the “Ghost Boat” on Lake Shasta.
“More has to be discovered about its history and clearly its time on Shasta Lake,” they stated. It’s incredible that it was able to crawl out of the water with so much history to share, as you put it.