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artifacts in front of the shipwreck museum

The Isaac Allerton

Painting of the Isaac Allerton ship. The Isaac Allerton was built in 1838 at Portsmouth, New Hampshire by Master Carpenter George Raynes. The ship was 137 feet long and weighed 594 tons. The Isaac Allerton spent her years as a merchant ship carrying cargoes throughout the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and the North Atlantic Ocean. On the night of August 28, 1856, the Isaac Allerton was caught in a hurricane off Saddlebunch Keys, 15 miles ESE of Key West.

She road anchor for several hours before the lines were cut and she ground over Washer Woman Shoals, lost her rudder and sank in Hawks Channel in five fathoms of water. The crew and passengers spent the night in longboats and were rescued the following morning by Key West wreckers led by George Alderslade. Because the ship had sunk in such deep water, the Key West wreckers were unable to salvage all the cargo. But the cargo they did salvage resulted in a payoff of over $50,000 making the Isaac Allerton the richest wreck in Key West history. Over 130 years later, in 1985, the wreck of the Isaac Allerton was rediscovered by a group of local divers who had been searching for the celebrated Atocha wreck. Today you can relive the days of the Isaac Allerton and see the original cargo from the ship at our Key West Museum.