Dating port huron
Researchers say the area could be home to as many as 80 other undiscovered wrecks."These shipwrecks really tell us the history of how shipping was the engine of the American economy," Green said.
"There's a huge legacy of risk, sometimes tragedy, personal stories of innovation, entrepreneurship — all locked into this proposed area."The J. Allmendinger, a wooden steamer that ran aground near Mequon, Wis., in 1895, now lies 15 feet beneath Lake Michigan, speckled with zebra mussels and algae.
With a cargo of 19,500 bushels of wheat, the ship had set sail from Chicago en route to Buffalo in 1864.
The Mojave was spotted by the crew of a passing ship as it dropped into a trough of stormy waters.
So, in a sense, there's an urgency to finding these wrecks now, because in 10 years, they could start disappearing."While the sheer number of sunken vessels makes Wisconsin's slice of Lake Michigan stand out, the site is also renowned for the remarkably sound condition of many downed ships.
Fifteen wrecks known to researchers are virtually intact, and 18 are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, per preliminary reports.
(Center for Archival Collections, Bowling Green State University)The population explosion of zebra mussels that threatens to destroy the sunken vessels has, ironically, made it easier to discover and explore the wrecks.
One zebra mussel can filter a liter of water a day, so once-plentiful microorganisms like plankton, which clouded the waters, have been decimated.
The Historical Society's work catalogs shipbuilding practices that were unique to the Great Lakes, and have been lost over the generations because masters built by rule of thumb or passed their techniques down to apprentices.Since the introduction of zebra mussels in 1990, underwater visibility that was once 5 to 10 feet is now 80 to 100 feet, according to experts.It isn't uncommon for one or two shipwrecks to be found each year, with some spotted by satellite imaging or low-flying aircraft.The assemblage of wooden planks was speckled with zebra mussels and fuzzy, green algae. Those are the walls where the deck collapsed and slid over here.'"A lone paddle-boarder skims Lake Michigan Tuesday, Aug.Nearby, a long, slender boiler that once powered the vessel lay on the rocky lake bottom."It's like Pick-Up Sticks shipwrecks, here," Thomsen said. 8, 2017, in Lake Michigan near Cedar Grove, Wis., passing over the remains of The Atlanta, a passenger and freight steamer sunk there in 1906 with the loss of one life.
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Under a new push by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the ghostly collection of sunken vessels could become the first national marine sanctuary in Lake Michigan and the second in the Great Lakes. The mussels can be cancerous, as evidenced by what happened to the Gallinipper, a fur trading ship that went down in 1851 and remained in pristine condition on the lake floor for more than a century."If it was raised, it could sail again," said Brendon Baillod, a Great Lakes maritime historian.