When Listing on the NRHP is not enough

Shipwreck facts:  The Material Service is a barge vessel type and a self-unloader property type. It was constructed in 1929 by Leatham D. Smith for the Smith-Putnam Navigation Company. This vessel was built at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. The ship measured 239.7 feet in length by 40.1 feet abeam with a draft of 13.9 feet and weighed 1077 gross tons or 736 net tons (Milwaukee Public Library 1959). This vessel was operated by propeller and has a U. S. registry (BGSU 2011a). The vessel contained self-unloading equipment and was powered by a twin diesel engine.

The Material Service was specifically built to transport sand and gravel from Lake Michigan to docks up the Chicago River. As such, the vessel incorporated architectural elements that were both inventive and innovative in functionality and structure. This vessel had an unusual form of architecture that allowed it to carry specific types of cargo through the Chicago canal (DHPA n.d). It had a system, and a low superstructure, which allowed it to travel through the canal without requiring bridge openings (Milwaukee Public Library 1959). Thus, the vessel represents a unique twentieth century motorship design.


Notes from the field:

Day 11 – We spent more time today surveying east of Michigan City.  Then we did a dive to the Muskegon, which is the only shipwreck in Indiana on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) in the late 1980’s.  We had heard rumors that a pipeline went through the site, after it was listed on the NRHP, and we had seen something which indicated this from the sidescan.  So, it was not a surprise to see the pipe running through the site but it was a shock to see how large the pipe was and the extent of the damage it caused.  The way the pipe was curved around some of the metal machinery, indicated deliberate action to locate the pipe around the machinery as it would not lay flat across the machinery of the wreck the way the rest of the pipe was laid down.  It was one of the most heartbreaking things I have ever seen at an archaeology site and an example of how Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act seems to have failed.

Please read up on the Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and its purpose.  It is beyond a tragedy that the only shipwreck in Indiana listed on the NRHP has been damaged in this way. 😦

We had a busy day after the dive with a Public Archaeology/History Day with tours to the research vessel to see all our equipment, public presentation & meeting.  We had some great discussion with people who came to see the RV & presentation.  Excellent feedback!  So, more pictures tomorrow

Dr. K.


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