Vivid lost photos of 1938 shipwreck found

The smokestack of the SS City of Salisbury snaps off as the hull of the wrecked steamer makes its final plunge.

The smokestack of the SS City of Salisbury snaps off as the hull of the wrecked steamer makes its final plunge. The bottom photo was taken minutes earlier. The photographer was aboard a US Coast Guard vessel.

Our unstoppable archivists have recovered dramatic photos of the salvage and sinking of the SS City of Salisbury.

The famous “Zoo Ship” sank 76 years ago today.

Graves Light Station has acquired the historic Associated Press photos of the 1938 shipwreck.  

The vessel wrecked off Graves Ledge in April, its keel broken on an uncharted ledge. The big steamer sank the following month.

Most of the vessel’s cargo of exotic animals from India and Ceylon survived, and all the people on board escaped unharmed.

We have been scouring antique photo collections and old newspaper archives for images of wrecks, rescues and other events around Graves Light, and already had a number of original pictures from the SS City of Salisbury.

The earlier pictures appear on the shipwreck page on this site, and on our posting from last November.

The latest collection of eight original prints are from the Associated Press, acquired from a dealer in Tennessee.

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The smokestack of the SS City of Salisbury snaps off as the hull of the wrecked steamer makes its final plunge.

The smokestack of the SS City of Salisbury snaps off as the hull of the wrecked steamer makes its final plunge.

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4 Comments

  1. Fantastic history, Keep up your great work.

  2. Fantastic photographs, my dad Walter was chief officer at the time and remember it well when I was only 8 years old. He was torpedoed on City of Johannesburg in 1942, died in 1955 when on City of Bristol.
    Thanks William for the memory.

  3. Arthur Stoddard Johnson III

    I visited Nahant every summer from my first year until abour 16 or 17 yrs. Graves Light was always a presence, and we loved seeing it there, day and night. I’m sending a small amount toward its maintenance.
    Stoddie,

    (what I was known as then)

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