Underwater explorers research possible oldest wreck in Lake Erie

Discussion in 'History' started by Disir, Sep 3, 2018.

  1. Disir
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    Disir Gold Member

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    Lake Erie has no sea monsters, but it may house a Lake Serpent.

    The Lake Serpent, that is. After weeks of underwater excavation, a team of researchers and volunteers is inching closer to ruling on whether a wreck recently found near Kelley's Island is in fact the Lake Serpent, a ship known to have sunk in 1829.

    If it is the Serpent, as suspected, the site would be the oldest known shipwreck in Lake Erie, a likely candidate for the National Register of Historic Places, and another significant feather in the cap of diver Tom Kowalczk and the Cleveland Underwater Explorers, the nonprofit group that discovered the wreck in 2015, during a scan of the area.

    The work, funded by charitable donations and other gifts, has been slow and painstaking. Lake Erie is notoriously volatile, and to explore or work on the site, divers must have near-perfect conditions. On the research trip I joined last month, for instance, a second dive was called off after a barely perceptible uptick in wind speed.

    Conditions underwater are even more unpredictable, and never good. The western basin, where the wreck is located, is the shallowest and murkiest area of Lake Erie, prone to algal blooms and stirred-up silt. Visibilty the day I dove was less than five feet, ruling out any hope of viewing or photographing the ship in its entirety.

    Indeed, I could only feel, not see, the focus of the investigation: the figurehead at the ship's bow. If it's found to be a snake, it's safe to assume the ship is the Lake Serpent. Even there, though, lead researcher Carrie Sowden, archeological director at the National Museum of the Great Lakes in Toledo, had to physically place my hands on the area in question. It would have taken me ages to find it on my own.

    I couldn't rule on its identity, either. To my hands, the wooden carving felt almost completely worn down, no surprise after sitting in just 45 feet of relatively warm water for nearly two centuries. Had the ship wrecked in the colder, clearer, and deeper waters of Lake Huron or Superior, the story might be different.

    Little is known about the Lake Serpent. All Sowden and crew have to go on are two documents: an article in the Cleveland Weekly Herald reporting the loss of the ship and its load of stone, and the recovery of the bodies of Captain Ezera Wright and his brother, Robert; and a note in the Detroit Gazette detailing "a supposed breach of the revenue laws of Canada."


    Underwater explorers research possible oldest wreck in Lake Erie

    Total number of perfect days left for the year:1.
     
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  2. OldLady
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    OldLady Diamond Member

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    An old ship carrying stone? I wonder what they hope to find from an archeological investigation? Interesting, though--I did not realize that the Great Lakes weren't being used for shipping until the 1800's.
     
  3. Unkotare
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    Unkotare Diamond Member

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    The Great Lakes represent the largest fresh water system on earth. But to hear the 'overpopulation' hysterics talk, everyone on earth is turning into a raisin.
     
  4. Disir
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    Disir Gold Member

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    I wonder if they are counting shipping from the time of the Erie Canal.
     
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  5. OldLady
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    OldLady Diamond Member

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    I was wondering the same thing. I hope they can pull up that figure head. Those things are so cool.
     
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  6. Disir
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    Disir Gold Member

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    I like them, too. I have always found the Great Lakes fascinating because the weather is something fierce. It's fierce now with all the technology.
     
  7. OldLady
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    OldLady Diamond Member

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    I grew up on Ontario, the gentlest of them, but still a great snow producer.
    I used to play on the frozen waves in winter--until my dad found out.
    [​IMG]
     
  8. Disir
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    Disir Gold Member

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    That is very cool.
     
  9. Picaro
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    Picaro Gold Member

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    European Fur traders and mercenaries were using the Great Lakes for shipping, military movements, and travel since the early 1600's. Not sure when they built the first actual ship to sail on it, though.
     
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