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Press Release

Unusual Civil War Artifact on Display at Sweetwater Creek State Park

Atlanta, Ga. (12/16/2013)

A rare crate of Civil War-era rifles that was recovered from a Confederate shipwreck is now on display at Sweetwater Creek State Park in Douglas County, Georgia.

In 1863, the CSS Stono - laden with European arms, munitions and goods for the Southern war effort - ran aground on a submerged sandbar while trying to circumvent the Federal blockade of the city of Charleston, South Carolina. Two years later, as Federal forces were about to capture the city, the “stuck” ship and her cargo were burned to prevent them from falling into the hands of Union troops.

In the 1980s a team of underwater archaeologists recovered a number of artifacts from the wreck of the Stono. Included among these artifacts were the remains of a large crate of Pattern 53 British Enfield Rifled Muskets. These weapons were considered some of the best guns available during the Civil War and were thus highly prized by both the North and South.

Today, this crate of rifles is undergoing conservation with the Historic Preservation Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. It is currently housed in a large aquarium of filtered water which is slowly drawing out salt and other contaminants that are harmful to the remnants of the crate and the rifles within it. The aquarium is on display in the lobby of the Visitor’s Center at Sweetwater Creek State Park. For many years, the crate called the Preservation Lab at Panola Mountain State Park home. The crate’s recent move is in preparation for the upcoming renovations of the Preservation Lab facilities. Hours and directions to Sweetwater Creek are available at www.gastateparks.org/SweetwaterCreek.

The Historic Preservation Division (HPD) of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources serves as Georgia’s state historic preservation office. Its mission is to promote the preservation and use of historic places for a better Georgia. HPD’s programs include archaeology protection and education, environmental review, grants, historic resource surveys, tax incentives, the National Register of Historic Places, community planning and technical assistance.

The mission of the Department of Natural Resources is to sustain, enhance, protect and conserve Georgia’s natural, historic and cultural resources for present and future generations, while recognizing the importance of promoting the development of commerce and industry that utilize sound environmental practices.

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For press inquiries contact Historic Preservation Division Director David Crass - 404-656-2840 and david.crass@dnr.state.ga.us

Photos available upon request from Charlie Miller, media & communications coordinator - 404-651-5287 and charlie.miller@dnr.state.ga.us