Autumn hurricane in 1944 drove Thomas Tracy tanker ashore in Rehoboth Beach

September 12, 2018

This postcard mailed from Rehoboth Beach in the summer of 1945 shows the freighter Thomas Tracy ashore in Rehoboth Beach off Brooklyn Avenue after being driven in by a hurricane.

According to a number of sources, the coal freighter heading south along the coast from New England was driven ashore on Sept. 14 by what was known as the Great Hurricane of 1944. The vessel sustained damage to its hull after bouncing atop the Hen and Chickens Shoals just southeast of the point at Cape Henlopen. The vessel’s crew was unable to navigate the wounded vessel in the face of the 100 mph winds and she eventually grounded atop a wrecked barge, the Merrimac, that had come ashore in the same place in 1918.

The entire crew was rescued by fire department volunteers and Coast Guard crews. The Tracy’s equipment was eventually salvaged and the hull metal cut down to the waterline and removed. Its massive propeller still remains buried in the sand that has been pumped ashore many times over the years during beach replenishment projects.