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Hurricane Damage to the Zion Train
In September 2005, Hurricane Frances seperated the bow section of the Zion Train from the rest of the wreck and moved it nearly 1.6 miles to the south and .6 miles west of the original sinking position. Formerly well north of Jupiter Inlet, it's now south of it, as the continous storm surge from the northeast pushed it across the hard rock bottom, dragging its starboard anchor and a 250' length of chain. The portside anchor is nowhere to be found.

The stern section, which includes the bridge, was also separated from the hold section and pounded into the hard bottom by the storm surge, creating a ledge along it's southern and western edges. Current patterns have undercut the newly formed ledge, creating more habitat. After the subsequent effects of Hurricanes Jeanne (Sept 2004) and Wilma (2005) this ledge is over 6 feet of vertical relief, with the stern listing 45° to starboard and down in the hole.
The hold section (middle) has collapsed and remains near the stern, with much of it buried in the sand. Both the hold and the stern sections remain near the position at which the Zion Train was sunk. All sections continue to hold many species of fish, with the stern section being home to 4 goliath grouper on a regular basis, and as many as 10 during the aggregation season.

The Zion Train was sunk by the Palm Beach County Department of Environmental Resources in Spring of 2004 as an artificial reef project. It had been confiscated by the DEA in the Miami River for drug running. After cleanup, it was towed to a position north and offshore of Jupiter Inlet and sunk. The hold almost immediately began to collapse, likely do to cracking when it sank. Hurricane Frances moved very slowly when near the Zion, so it's surge had nearly 7 hours to do its work. While Jeanne followed a similar track, it moved rapidly and did not move the bow, and Wilma came from the opposite direction in 2005 and did nothing.
Notes for each photo
These photos were taken by Wade G. Pemberton on March 12, 2005, during a PBCRRT fishcounting and damage survey dive.

Photo 1: Looking slightly east of due north. The anchor chain (not visible) strings out toward the top of the picture. Depth to sand is 76 feet. The diver on the bow is taking latitude and longitude using the floating GPS method, which gives an accuracy of about 6 feet. Bow location is Latitude 26° 56.480' Longitude 080° 00 .897'

Photo 2: A closer look to get positive identification.

Photo 3: Looking ESE at the shear line, which is across the junction with the main hold. The bow hold can be easily entered here, and egressed laterally or via the forward hatch.
Photo 4: Looking due north. The anchor chain is taut and runs approximately 250 feet to the still attached anchor. The anchor location is Latitude 26 56.524 Longitude 080 00.887'

Photo 5: Looking due south toward the bow. This small anchor could not get purchase on the hard rock and just slid across it, following the bow.

Photo 6: Looking west at the southwestern corner of the the stern section. The stern section has seperated from the main hold, and worked itself 3 feet down into the limestone rock.

Photo 7: Backed off 50 feet from photo 6, looking southwest in the same direction, along the front edge of the broken off stern section. The diver in lower left is at the corner shown in photo 6. The ledge is more undercut along the west side of the wreck than the south ledge, shown here.
Photo 8: Looking upward from the position of photo 7. The bridge is in fairly good shape and the stern of the Zion Train continues to hold a lot of fish, as can be seen here.

Photo 9: Looking back down from the bridge, toward the new ledge, at the same corner shown in the photo 6 closeup.

Photo 10: The survey in 2006, after the 3 hurricanes and numerous winter storms, showed the stern down by 6 feet and listed to starboard. Stern Location: Latitude 26° 57.786' Longitude 080° 00 .448'

Photo 11: Longer view from same direction as number 10.

Photo 12: Current has swept the crushed rock out leaving a deep ledge along the western edge of the wreck. The stern is down in the hole, and the propeller is mostly buried in sand.
Underwater Photos of the Wreck of the Zion Train

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