Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Shipwrecks in Lake Erie

I serve as Vice-Chair of the Coastal Resource Advisory Council, a group of individuals who advise the director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources on coastal issues. As such, I often receive various press releases and I'm passing along this one which I thought was very interesting.

I don't think most people realize how much interest divers have in our Lake Erie Shipwrecks - or in the great preservative qualities of our cold, fresh water lakes. This is a growing tourist industry and it will be enhanced by this new data.


ODNR pilot study report now available

SANDUSKY, OH - The report of a pilot study using high-frequency sound waves to locate shipwrecks in the vicinity of Kelleys Island in Lake Erie is now available, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

Using side-scan sonar and Global Positioning System technologies, the Lake Erie Geology Group of ODNR’s Division of Geological Survey was able to more accurately locate and map known shipwrecks. The one-year study was undertaken to test whether side-scan sonar can help fulfill ODNR’s obligation to inventory, evaluate and protect shipwrecks. It also allowed scientists to develop methods of searching for previously unidentified shipwrecks in areas known to be treacherous for sailors.

Side-scan sonar produces an image like an aerial photograph, but at an oblique angle. Shipwrecks located and mapped during the study include the George Dunbar, Amaretta Mosher, and F.H. Prince. Four wrecks were located on the west and southwest side of Kelleys Island; the ships are assumed to be the Oak Valley, L.B. Crocker, C.H. Plummer, and the tugboat Relief, but it is unclear which ship corresponds to each location without a subsequent study.

Scientists also used the side-scan sonar to study the Gull Island Shoal, known to be the most treacherous reef in Lake Erie. Although as many as five wrecks are believed to have occurred in the vicinity of this reef, no shipwrecks were positively identified there.

“Locating and identifying Lake Erie’s cultural resources helps us preserve our maritime heritage,” said Constance Livchak, supervisor of the Lake Erie Geology Group. “We’d like


Unknown said...

This is an interest we share since I am a history fan and have spent hours reading about the huge numbers of shipwrecks in the Great Lakes not just related to the Fitzgerald.

I know not only from a diver's perspective but from a historical one this is a very interesting topic. Some of the shipwrecks within the Great Lakes are awesomely preserved due to the cold water and I hope as more divers have a chance to visit them more photographs and books will follow.

Maggie said...

Growing up sailing, there were many races with no air and lots of sitting around. My dad always had a couple of books like 'great wrecks of the great lakes,' or 'shipwrecks of the great lakes,' or something along those lines.

Wonderful reading, especially when you're sitting right on top of the area they're discussing.

-Sepp said...

Check out the book "Erie Wrecks west" which details most of the known wrecks in western Lake Erie and provides the back story such as how and when the loss occurred, cargo, passengers and, destination. The book also has GPS and LORAN coordinates for those who dive as well as pictures.
Funny side story...I had contemplated changing the lame name on my boat until I read this book. Most of the wrecks listed seem to have had a name change while the ship was in service and changed hands so that old wives tale about a name change might not be bunk after all!

Hooda Thunkit (Dave Zawodny) said...

I hope that any newly located wrecks can be evaluated and made off limits for preservation purposes before they get stripped as usually happens.

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