KURE BEACH – It’s that time of year that visitors to North Carolina’s beautiful coastline are combing the beach for sea shells and sharks teeth. Every now and then you might find an interesting artifact, or something washed up from a shipwreck resting in the graveyard of the Atlantic. A married couple doing just that on Kure Beach, though, found an artillery piece from the Civil War, and it was still live.
“This will never happen in our lifetime again,” Patti Belanger said.
“We were walking south from our house down to Fort Fisher,” Patti Belanger said. “We look for sea shells. Sea shells and shark teeth.”
Patti and Kerry Belanger’s daily walk on the beach was about to turn into a treasure hunt.
“I looked down into about 6 inches of water and I thought, ‘What is that?’ So I said to Kerry, ‘What is that?’ and he says, ‘It’s a rock.’ But I said, ‘I don’t think that’s a rock.”
Kerry started digging.
“It literally looked like a big bullet.”
Patti says it was too heavy to carry, but she was not going to leave it behind.
“I wasn’t going to let it go. Yeah. No.”
Kerry threw it over his shoulder and they took it home.
“We talked about it a lot. I thought, ‘We just don’t know if this is safe or not.” […]”
They then turned to Facebook with pictures of their find to see if anyone had an idea about exactly what they found. When educated guesses indicated indicated it could be dangerous, they called police. Eventually a bomb squad showed up.
“[…] Lt. Jerry Brewer with the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office said they determined it is a Union 20 pound Parrott Round from the Civil War. Later, state archaeologists told them it is actually a 30 pound Parrott Round. Brewer said it is one of the most commonly used rounds during the civil war.
“It was actually live.” Patti said.
“It’s actually illegal for them to possess it,” Brewer said. “Any artillery round that hadn’t been disposed of and cleaned out properly is against the law to possess. […]”
Professional discharged the old bomb, which broke it to pieces, but then brought the couple back the pieces for a keepsake. They were able to piece it back together and naturally thought it’d be source of a great story for years to come. As it turns out though, Big Government extends to old things you find on the beach, too. State archaeologists informed the couple of a state law making it illegal for them to keep it, so the Belangers “donated” the shell to the State and asked that it be displayed near the beach they found it on.
Big Government has a way of interfering with absolutely anything you can think of, doesn’t it?