Dating port huron
The most common ships in the potential sanctuary are 19th-century schooners — nimble sailboats with two or more masts, similar to a classic pirate ship.Perhaps the area's most fabled schooner was a shabby old barge called the Rouse Simmons but more popularly known as the Christmas Tree Ship. 22, 1912, the ship left Michigan's Upper Peninsula for Chicago with a cache of evergreens for Christmas.(Chris Walker / Chicago Tribune)For hours at a time, Thomsen photographed the wreckage as other divers drew what they saw on underwater slates and scrawled measurements in hopes of creating a scaled rendering of the ship.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.A small boat and cabin doors belonging to the lost ship were later recovered on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, but the vessel lay deep below the surface for over a century."This is the stuff the movie-makers dream of.This is just like it was when it sank to the bottom," Radovan said with a grin, watching the camera's images from his home office.A group of lumberjacks hitched a ride to join their families on what was supposed to be the Rouse Simmons' final voyage of the season. The ship capsized about 5 miles offshore of Two Rivers, Wis., and rescue ships were unable to find it in a snowstorm.
After reporting the finding to the state of Wisconsin, he learned the foundered ship was the Mojave.
Many times, it's the contents of a ship that help identify and tell its story.
After the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources detected a steel steamship about 16 miles northeast of Port Washington, maritime archaeologists discovered hundreds of antique cars in the hull — identifying it as the Senator, a car ferry that had left Milwaukee for Detroit.
With the improved water clarity, the Wisconsin Historical Society wants to help more people view the wrecks by establishing a water trail of shallow-water shipwrecks that can be seen by paddle boarders, kayakers and snorkelers.
On a recent afternoon, Tamara Thomsen, a state maritime archaeologist, prepared to survey the J. Allmendinger, a wooden steamer that ran aground near Mequon where it was eventually pulverized by waves.
(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.