Underwater Archaeological Preserve

SS Copenhagen, a 19th Century cargo steamer, struck a coral reef in 25 feet of water off present-day Lauderdale-By-The-Sea on May 26, 1900. The shipwreck is one of just 11 underwater archaeological preserves in Florida, and was officially dedicated as the state's fifth shipwreck preserve in June 1994. In 2001 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places!

Dive boats often visit the shallow wreck, which is popular with local scuba divers and snorkelers. With an estimated 10,000 visitors per year, it is by far the most popular underwater preserve in the state. Some divers even swim out to the site from the beach and then enjoy lunch at the Sea Watch Restaurant on State Road A1A (the shipwreck is directly off the restaurant); the Sea Watch is also where officials from the Florida Division of Historical Resources Bureau of Archaeological Research held a reception in 1994 to officially dedicate the site as an historical preserve. Click here to see the state's SS Copenhagen brochure. The brochure is available at Town Hall, the Chamber of Commerce and local dive shops. There are also informational beach signs about Copenhagen off Washingtonia Park and near the Sea Watch Restaurant.

Constructed in England and launched in 1898, the single-screw steamer's final voyage  began on May 20, 1900. The SS Copenhagen left Philadelphia bound for Cuba with a cargo of nearly 5,000 tons of black coal. On the sixth day of its voyage, the schooner accidentally slammed into a reef three-quarters of a mile offshore.

The bulk of the ship's cargo was salvaged, but attempts to pull the vessel off the reef failed. The SS Copenhagen remained above water for decades and was used as target practice by U.S. Navy pilots during World War II. Much of its flattened structure has become part of the coral reef, providing a home for spiny lobsters, tropical fish and other marine life. Divers sometimes report seeing lumps of coal and spent ammunition shells on the site.


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