State panel supports adding wreckage site to national registry
Published 8:36 pm Friday, February 16, 2018
The nomination of the site of the Union gunboat Picket’s sunken remains to the National Register of Historic Places got a boost Monday when the Washington City Council authorized the mayor to sign a document supporting the nomination.
The authorization vote was unanimous.
“In essence, they’re (State Historic Preservation Office) asking if the City Council would like to sign a portion of the application to make this happen,” City Manager Bobby Roberson said.
The Washington Historic Preservation Commission supports the nomination. The nomination presentation was made Feb. 8 to the North Carolina National Register Advisory Committee is set for Feb. 8. in Raleigh.
“It was approved by the North Carolina National Register Advisory Committee after the presentation. The next step in the process will be for it to be sent to Washington, (D.C.),” said Mary Beth Fitts, an assistant state archaeologist with the Office of State Archaeology. Fitts said the nomination process “can vary” depending on several factors, including those reviewing the nomination documentation requesting additional information.
The Picket’s remains are in the Tar River just west of the U.S. Highway 17 Business bridge at Washington. A National Register of Historic Places registration form lists the state as owner of the property. The registration form lists the Pickett’s remains as being significant in the areas of archaeology (historic, non-aboriginal), maritime history, military and transportation.
The Picket did not begin as gunboat. Originally it was an iron-hull barge named the John F. Winslow. The Winslow’s architect was Henry R. Dunham and its builder was Archimedes Iron Works in New York, according to the registration form. Before it was transformed into a gunboat, it was an iron-hull barge. The U.S. War Department bought the vessel in December 1861 for use in the fleet being formed for Gen. Ambrose Burnside’s invasion of North Carolina, according to the registration form. Burnside chose the Picket as his headquarters ship. It saw action at Roanoke Island and New Bern in early 1862. Stationed with the naval group at Washington on Sept. 6, 1862, it was destroyed in action by accidental explosion of its magazine during a raid by Confederate forces. Its captain, Sylvester D. Nicoll, was killed along with 18 crewmen. Six others were wounded.
Several sources about the Picket’s history vary slightly.