Kentucky Kayak Trip Turns Into Treasure Hunt


Over the course of human history, war, mass migrations, and technological advances have created countless historical artifacts. These remnants of our past have ended up in secret resting places, covered by nature, becoming secret treasures of history waiting to be rediscovered.

Imagine being transformed from a person on a friendly excursion with your friends to an explorer who has just discovered a priceless artifact with an extensive and interesting past. Exactly that has happened to this group of kayakers who came upon something extraordinary while cruising on the Ohio River.

Click through to find out what they discovered and how much of an impact their discovery had on our history.



12. Just An Average Day On The Ohio River

Imagine being on a kayak trip with your friends. The sounds of nature provide a distinct surround sound of birds and other woodland creatures making their presence known. All of a sudden, a ghost ship appears out of nowhere. Would you paddle up to get a closer look? These friends did just that.

11. Discovery Of An Abandoned Ship

As they paddled up, they got a better look at the ship. It had obviously seen some interesting events in its lifetime. They got even closer and decided to climb on board. They had no idea they were about to become a big part of the abandoned ship’s history.

10. Left And Forgotten

The ship had been tied up and sitting in the same spot for an unknown period of time, but it was clear that it had been forgotten. The group paddled around the vessel searching for a safe entry point to get a better look. Curiosity got the best of them and they climbed inside to explore the vessel a little closer.

9. All Aboard!

The kayakers had to paddle onto the riverbank in order to access the ship that had been completely taken over by vegetation. The owner had obviously wanted to keep the ship hidden, but did not hide it well enough. The group dove into the ship’s long and unique history starting on slide #8.

8. Over One Hundred Years Old

After some research, the kayakers found the vessel’s origins. The ship was built back in Wilmington, Delaware in 1902 by Pusey and Jones. It originally served as a luxury yacht used to transport rich and well-to-do seafarers. The ship’s first name was the Celt, and it changed by the time World War I broke out as you’ll see in slide #7.

7. Becoming The USS Sachem

When the United States of America entered World War I in 1917, the Navy decided to collect groups of ships across the country to transform into warships. The Celt was armed with various weapons and became known as the USS Sachem approximately 15 years after it was first set afloat.

6. A Host To The Rich And Famous

After the war ended, the USS Sachem was returned to hosting private events. Thomas Edison utilized the ship in a few experiments for his various inventions. Captain Jacob Marin of Brooklyn later transformed the ship into a fishing vessel before he realized it was more lucrative as a party vessel. Soon after, World War II broke out and it was sent to war again in slide #5.

5. The Vessel’s Second Time At War

When the United States was brought into World War II in 1941, the Navy decided to commission the USS Sachem once again. This time, her name would become the USS Phenakite and was used to patrol the Florida Keys. The reliable Phenakite was used reliably until the war’s end and she went back to her roots in slide #4.

4. Once Again Hosting Celebrations

When peace broke out, there was a reason for people to celebrate. The USS Phenakite would go back to serving partygoers on various cruises. The ship was sold to Circle Line who renamed the ship Sightseer until the name was changed again to Circle V. The ship was retired in the 1980s until a famous pop star commissioned it for a music video in slide #3.

3. Co-Star In Madonna’s “Papa Don’t Preach”

The ship sat unused for a few years until one day a stretch limo rolled up to the site. A representative for a “Material Girl” named Madonna asked about using the ship in an upcoming music video. You might recognize the vessel from the 1986 music video for her hit “Papa Don’t Preach.”

2. Its Final Resting Place

The Circle V’s final journey found it parked near new owner Robert Miller’s home in Northern Kentucky where it sat untouched until the small group of kayakers discovered her once again. The lost history of the Circle V has now been brought to light and the ship’s discoverers have found a new appreciation for her service.

1. Bringing Her Back For One Last Encore

Apparently, there are plans to renovate the ship sometime soon. The Circle V had served in two world wars when it wasn’t a feature for the lifestyles of the rich and famous. A nice renovation and deep clean would do the ship some justice to bring it back to its former glory and become available to others who might appreciate its past.

Stories of discoveries such as this one are not very common. Each year, quite a few U.S. Navy ships are decommissioned from active service, which is quite common. The Naval History and Heritage Command will usually save artifacts from the ship in order to protect them.

Many ships are either stripped down for their parts or metal scraps and some are even sunk to the bottom of the ocean giving them a deep water burial. A few ships, such as the USS Midway in San Diego, are transformed into museums as an homage to Naval history.

This discovery is almost one-of-a-kind, and the trip will probably go down as one of the most exciting for the kayakers in the story.