[Date Prev][Date Next][Date Index]

GLIN==> News Release: Moorings Placed at Historic Shipwrecks Near Milwaukee and Racine

10 July 2002

For More Information: 	
Cathy Green, Wisconsin Maritime Trails Coordinator, (608) 271-8172
John Karl, Science Writer, UW Sea Grant Institute, (608) 263-8621

Editors Note:  Images of the shipwrecks and the buoy installations are
available for downloading at


Milwaukee, Wis. (7/10/02) - Thanks to the recent installation of mooring
buoys at two shipwrecks off the Village of Shorewood and Racine, Wis., Lake
Michigan divers are finding it easy to travel back in time.

The buoys help divers locate and enjoy two "underwater time capsules,"
according to state underwater archaeologist Jeff Gray of the Wisconsin
Historical Society. "The Appomattox and the Kate Kelly allow divers to take
a trip back to the late 1800s, when schooners and steamers ruled the Great
Lakes," Gray said.  

The Appomattox buoy was installed June 6 and the Kate Kelly was installed
June 27.  Both projects were completed by WHS archaeologists with assistance
from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee WATER Institute. The buoys are
part of several initiatives that make up the Wisconsin Maritime Trails
program developed by the WHS and the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant
Institute.  Trails in Lake Michigan and Lake Superior will educate divers
and non-divers alike about the state's maritime history by featuring
shipwrecks, lighthouses, historic waterfronts and other maritime resources,
Gray said.  Shore-side historic markers, visitors' materials, dive guides, a
Web site and the shipwreck moorings will be incorporated into the trails.
Funding for the Kate Kelly buoy was provided by the Great Lakes Shipwreck
Research Foundation.

The Appomattox and the Kate Kelly join a dozen other Wisconsin shipwrecks
marked by seasonal buoys.  In Lake Michigan, buoys mark wrecks off Port
Washington, the Milwaukee area and around Door County.  Four buoys in the
Apostle Islands of Lake Superior also help divers locate popular historic
shipwreck dive sites.

Anchored to the lakebed, the large white and blue buoys protect the wrecks
by allowing dive boats to tie directly to the fixed buoys instead of
dragging anchors to locate the wrecks, according to Gray. The line that
anchors the buoys also guides divers safely to the wrecks.

On November 2, 1905, the Appomattox ran aground off Atwater Beach, five
miles north of the lifesaving station in Milwaukee, during a heavy fog.
Efforts to tow her into deeper water failed, and the pounding of the seas
against the stranded vessel soon rendered her unsalvageable. 

A 319-foot wooden steamer built by innovative shipbuilder James Davidson in
Bay City, Mich., in 1896, the Appomattox carried a variety of bulk cargoes
during her career. Today the remains of the vessel are broken and scattered
in about 25 feet of water.  The shallow depth and close proximity to shore
make the wreck a popular dive site, especially for beginning divers or even
snorkelers, Gray said. 

The schooner Kate Kelly, built in 1867 at Tonawanda, New York, was loaded
with hemlock railroad ties when she foundered in a storm two miles off
Racine's Wind Point on May 14, 1895.  The 126-foot, two-masted schooner was
bound for Chicago from Masonville, Mich., when the storm came up. The vessel
capsized before she sank, taking all six crew members with her.  Broken up
and scattered at a moderate depth of 55 feet, the remains of the Kate Kelly
provide an excellent first-hand view of mid-nineteenth-century schooner
construction for intermediate divers. 
These are just two of hundreds of submerged archaeological sites that can be
visited in Wisconsin.  More than 700 shipwrecks and thousands of other
archaeological sites rest in the 22 percent of the state that lies under
water, according to Gray. In addition to their historic and archaeological
value, many of these sites have tremendous recreational appeal, he said. 

"Underwater archaeology enables a better understanding of maritime
traditions, technology, economics, and culture," he said.  "The cold, fresh
water of the Great Lakes preserves shipwrecks and other artifacts. Visiting
and studying wrecks like the Appomattox and Kate Kelly gives us rare
opportunities for hands-on exploration of history."

Many of the shipwrecks the WHS has studied are featured on a Web site called
"Wisconsin's Great Lakes Shipwrecks" (www.seagrant.wisc.edu/shipwrecks).
This site also provides the navigational coordinates for the shipwrecks
buoyed as part of the Maritime Trails program. For more information on
Wisconsin shipwrecks, call the Wisconsin Historical Society at (608)

# # # #

Conceived in 1966, Sea Grant is a national network of 30 university-based
programs of research, outreach and education dedicated to the protection and
sustainable use of the United States' coastal, ocean and Great Lakes
resources.  The National Sea Grant Network is a partnership of participating
coastal states, private industry and the National Sea Grant College Program,
National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.


Since 1988, the Wisconsin Historical Society has surveyed, mapped, and
documented the underwater archeological resources of the state.  This work
will improve the management of historic shipwrecks and help develop
underwater preserve areas to protect these cultural and recreational
resources.  The State Underwater Archaeology Program is part of the WHS's
Division of Historic Preservation, under the Office of the State


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
glin-announce is hosted by the Great Lakes Information Network (GLIN):
To subscribe: http://www.glin.net/forms/glin-announce_form.html
To post a message: http://www.glin.net/forms/glin-announce_post.html
To search the archive: http://www.glin.net/lists/glin-announce/
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *