10-year-old boy, friends find cannonball in Eno River - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

10-year-old boy, friends find cannonball in Eno River

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"We never realized the danger of it, so we weren't careful in that way, but we also thought it might be sort of interesting, and to save it so not to crack it," Aquino said. "We never realized the danger of it, so we weren't careful in that way, but we also thought it might be sort of interesting, and to save it so not to crack it," Aquino said.
Photo courtest Tim Duffy/Orange County Historical Museum Photo courtest Tim Duffy/Orange County Historical Museum
HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. -

 A 10-year-old boy made a rare and dangerous discovery in the Eno River in early June.

Eli Aquino and two family friends were playing in the river when they found some interesting items.

“I pulled out a pulley wheel. We were finding all sorts of weird stuff," Aquino said.

Then, the group found a cannonball in the river.

“Well, we thought it was a regular ball. They thought it was maybe one of those pressure cannonballs," Aquino said.

He said the ball smelled of gunpowder.

A call to Scott Washington at the Orange County Historical Museum proved Aquino and friends did actually find a cannonball.

"I did like dogs do where they tilt their heads slightly to side. I did the same thing and I went, 'Wait a minute,'" Washington said.

After some checking, Washington confirmed the find was a 150-year-old cannonball with a timer fuse.

“These are the kind that we sing about when we sing 'The Star Spangled Banner.’ We talk about bombs bursting in air. This is one of those. It's a shrapnel cannonball," Washington said.

Aquino said he didn’t realize the cannonball was potentially dangerous.

"We never realized the danger of it, so we weren't careful in that way, but we also thought it might be sort of interesting, and to save it so not to crack it," he said.

Washington consulted with experts from Bennett Place to Appomattox about the potential danger of the ball exploding.

“They all concurred that unless these are safely deactivated, that the black powder inside, when dry, is as dangerous today if a spark hit it as it was 150 years ago," Washington said.

According to the Orange County Historical Museum, a 12-year-old boy found a live shell in Hillsborough in 1865. That shell exploded and killed the boy.

Washington said that boy was one of the last casualties of the Civil War.

The ball found by Aquino did not explode and Washington is happy the find ended safely.

“Balancing ecology, history and safety and luckily there's a good, happy ending to all of this," Washington said.

The Durham Bomb Squad currently has the cannonball. The museum is hoping to get any pieces left after it is defused.

Washington believes the ball dates to 1865 when troops were in the area, but not engaged in combat.

"This is a link to that time and era when we don't have a battle going on here, but we had a lot of troops and even evidence that there were cannon placements all over Hillsborough in case there was an attack," he said.

Copyright 2014 WNCN. All rights reserved.

Justin Quesinberry

Justin is a reporter for WNCN and a North Carolina native. He has spent the better part of the last decade covering the news in central North Carolina.  More>>

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