Into the Blue…Uhm, I mean Green

Shipwreck facts:  The Material Service foundered under storm conditions on July 29, 1936, and 15 lives were lost (Milwaukee Public Library 1959). It had departed Lockport, Illinois headed for South Chicago under Captain Charlie D. Brown, who perished when the vessel sank (DHPA n.d.; Milwaukee Public Library 1959). It was reported that a large wave washed over the ship causing it to list sharply and quickly, before much of the crew could react and get free of their bunks (Milwaukee Public Library 1959).

At the time of the disaster the ship had a cargo of 2,500 tons of sand or gravel. The Material Service was owned by Material Service Company of Chicago until 1936 when it was lost. The loss was estimated at $500,000. However, at least two salvage operations were conducted on the Material Service, one in late in 1936 and one in 1945, but specifically what was salvaged at either time was not detailed (Milwaukee Sentinel 1945; Milwaukee Public Library 1959).


Notes from the field:

Day 10 – Well, we made it to one site and made it under water today.  The goal was to do some underwater photography & video.  Photography went fairly smoothly but there were technical difficulties with the underwater video.  The more technology you add to a project, the more challenges you encounter.  We made only one dive because the weather turned and the waves picked up quite a bit.  The dive went well though.  Visibility ranged from 5 to 20 feet.  There was a slight current from south to north.  So, we got a little bit of a work out.  There were also quite a few fish: bass and gobies.  Of course the shipwreck was thickly coated with zebra mussels.  The deck was also coated with a very green layer of slimy looking algae.  We had already surveyed this site with the Mini-me sidescan but to actually be under water exploring the wreck was very different.  It was much bigger than we had anticipated.  In part that is because we had been looking at it from a tiny laptop screen view.  It is also because gliding next to a piece of history that is so much bigger than you is always awe inspiring.


Thanks and Cheers 🙂

Dr. K.


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