Field Day 2

Shipwreck facts:

The J. D. Marshall was purchased by a company that had owned the Muskegon. The company used the insurance money from the loss of the Muskegon to buy the J. D. Marshall. The J. D. Marshall is now famous in Indiana history not only for its historical significance but also because the attempted salvage of this vessel was the initial impetus for the state’s efforts to survey, document, and evaluate historic vessels in Indiana’s state waters. The J.D. Marshall was discovered in 1979 and was considered to be the most intact of the shipwrecks in Indiana’s Lake Michigan waters (Ellis n.d. (a):1, 1985:7). According to Indiana State Preservation laws (IC 14-3-3.4, Section 7), there was an illegal salvage attempt of this vessel in 1982 (Ellis n.d. (a):1; Gantz 1982). At the time of the attempted salvage the ship was re-floated, moved, the prop cut off, and then the means of refloating the vessel failed and it crashed back to the bottom (Ellis n.d. (a):1, Ellis personal communication 2011). This salvage attempt was reported by local divers to state authorities and salvage activities were stopped when individuals involved were apprehended by officers from the Division of Enforcement. However, as a result of this salvage attempt and other activities which have removed artifacts from this site, the J. D. Marshall lies within an archaeological context that is disturbed. According to early 1980s accounts, the vessel’s attributes were damaged, artifacts displaced, deck and internal equipment scattered, and hull integrity compromised (Ellis n.d. (a):1). Because of the disturbance caused by the salvage attempt, the site was determined to not be a good candidate for listing in the NRHP by the Indiana State Historic sites board (Ellis personal communication 2011).

Notes from the field:

Day 2 – working through more equipment issues – such is the way with Underwater Archaeology and technology in the 21st century.   Technology used to search for wrecks is much better.  However, there are always problems when using different computers, different file types, and getting the different technology to communicate with each other.  The “mini-me” sidescan unit, as we are fondly calling our small unit, is working well.  We are also pleasantly surprised at the excellent satellite coverage we are seeing offshore on Lake Michigan.  With these precision instruments, we are able to effectively document where and what we are surveying.  (My cell phone works well too).  So, much different than how we surveyed 5 or even 10 years ago!

It was another beautiful day though.  Sunny and in the high 80’s offshore (warmer inland).  We were out all day exploring 5 sites.  Some appear to have at least a debris field, but only one demonstrated what we call structure, or a portion of the ship that is still intact lying in the submerged bottom lands of Lake Michigan.

When it is such a beautiful weekend, it is more of a challenge to avoid recreational boaters, especially boaters driving in circles to retrieve items lost over board, and not looking where they are driving their boat, as we try to maintain a straight line for our sidescan transect.   Two of our volunteer crew went home today and two more arrive.  Constant training but hopefully a lot of learning is taking place.  Thanks so very much to volunteers RS and AJS!

Thanks and Cheers 🙂

Dr. K.


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