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Great Lakes Shipwreck Preservation Society
Dedicated to Saving our Shipwrecks "From Prevention to Preservation"


HomeGrand Marais Harbor Documentation Project 2011
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Grand Marais Harbor Shipwreck Artifact Documentation 

August 20 - 21, 2011



Grand Marais Marina - Elgin shipwreck in front of breakwater
Photo by Steve Daniel



Grand Marais Harbor - Liberty rudder site
Photo by Steve Daniel



Grand Marais Small Boat Launch
Photo by Steve Daniel



Grand Marais Harbor - Liberty shipwreck site
Photo by Steve Daniel
 



Grand Marais Harbor - Diver marking shipwreck artifact
Photo by Steve Daniel


Grand Marais, MN Harbor Shipwreck Artifact Documentation Project 
 August 20-21, 2011

Project Details


The purpose of this project  is to document a variety of artifacts from the schooner Elgin shipwreck and the steamer Liberty shipwreck. Both sank in the harbor at different times. The artifacts are scattered and sometimes clustered in certain areas.  We want to photograph them underwater and mark their locations on GPS.  A map of the harbor will be drawn with an "x" marking each artifact location.  A spreadsheet will be created listing the name of the artifact, which shipwreck it belongs to, the GPS location and depth. 

This information will be provided to the Minnesota Historical Society, State Historic Preservation Office.  It will be a valuable reference that could be used in the future to consider repositioning some of the artifacts if the City of Grand Marais decides to expand their marina facilities in an area containing shipwreck artifacts.  No artifacts will be moved without the approval of MHS SHPO.  This will help preserve the artifacts (they will remain underwater) and provide visiting scuba divers the enjoyment of seeing maritime history underwater.

There is still room on this trip for more divers.  This is a Level 1 dive project.  If you are interested, please click on link provided below.




Please print,
read and sign the GLSPS Master Liability and Waiver Forms and bring them with you and hand into the Project Leader or a GLSPS Representative.  Please note:  Please prepare your forms before you arrive at the small boat launch.  This will help speed up the process at the dock before we begin the project.   

Steve Daniel
Project Leader / photographer
sbdaniel1@mmm.com
651-470-5389




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Grand Marais, MN Harbor Shipwreck Artifact Documentation
Project Report


August 20 - 21, 2011


July 31, 2011

First blast email to the Membership to announce that the project is coming up and if interested, please register for the project.



August 2, 2011

An email was sent to all attendees on the final plan for the project.  The email also described how and what we were doing on the project.  We also informed attendees what equipment to bring for the dive, lodging information and a link to the Liability and Waiver Forms to print, read and sign to bring with and hand into Steve Daniel.

Friday, August 19. 2011 - Project Briefing

All attendees met Friday evening at the Campgrounds near the Grand Marais Marina.  GLSPS paperwork was collected and a project briefing was done to provide an overview of what needed to be accomplished.  All participants were familiar with the Grand Marais Shipwrecks, which are described in the book, Shipwrecks Along Lake Superior's North Shore, authored by Steve Daniel.  It was mentioned that the schooner Elgin sank near what is now the marina breakwater, as well as the drifting of the burning steamer Liberty, which sank on the southwest side of the harbor.  Dale Koziol (boat/surface crew) Jeff Lee (Diver) and Steve Daniel (Diver & Project Leader) were available for the project.  Bonnie Koziol and Sarah Lee accompanied their spouses.  Sarah helped with dive tending before and after the dives.

Saturday, August 20, 2011 - Project Started.

The weather was sunny, clear, 70 degrees, a slight breeze and beautiful.  Before starting the project, a Safety Briefing was conducted.  The GLSPS First Aid Kit, AED and an O2 Kit were explained and placed in the leader's vehicle.  Jeff Lee mentioned that he was an EMT, so that was good news to the crew.  It was decided to start the first shore dive from the pebble beach in front of the picnic shelter.  A 40 Cu. Ft. stage bottle with regulator was placed in Dale's boat for emergency use, if needed.

Dale launched his 13 foot fishing boat (which displayed a Divers Down Flag and a blue/white flag), while Jeff and Steve doned their dive gear under the shelter (for shade).  Dale recorded the diver entry and exit times in the GLSPS Dive Log.  The divers entered the water and swam out about thirty yards, towing a Diver Down Flag attached to a red nylon covered inner tube.  An iron knee from the Elgin was found in the sand, chained to a small steel hatch combing.  A second knee was found shortly thereafter.  Each time an object was found, Steve would take an underwater photograph or two of the artifact or shipwreck piece.  Jeff would then pass a fish marker to Steve, who placed the lead weight on the object and let the marker float to the surface.  Meanwhile Jeff would sketch the object on velum taped to a dive slate.  Then he would measure the object with a vinyl tape on a reel, recording the dimensions next to his sketch. 

The divers would move away from the object and surface to signal Dale to weigh anchor and come over with his boat.  Dale would mark the float location with a GPS and record the depth and description (provided by Steve), along with t he coordinates for use in a spreadsheet.  The divers would swim onto another artifact or debris piece and repeat the procedure.  Visibility was about 20 feet, with good sunlight penetration at depth.  A wooden plank, a timber with a steel rod through it, steel cable and a half-barrel mooring base were found in the same area.  The Liberty rudder was found mostly covered in sand, approximately 20 feet from the beach in front of the picnic shelter.  The depth of the mostly sand-covered rudder was 4 feet, which had changed substantially from the fully exposed rudder at a 7- foot depth Steve observed a few years ago.

After lunch, a second dive was conducted in front of the large rock that formed a natural breakwater, past the small boat launch ramp.  A large steel plate perforated with many holes was found.  Jeff, who owns an antique steam engine and is a steam engine enthusiast, thought this was a boiler plate from the Liberty.  A piece of the ship's 3-inch wide rub rail, an angle iron and a small layered section of wreckage made of wood and metal fastened together were found alongside the rock rubble at the base of the large rock breakwater.  A 5-foot piece of narrow gauge rail was also found, perhaps from the commercial fishing days of the harbor.

Following a surface interval and a warm-up fromt he 43 degree water, the divers entered alongside the boat ramp dock and swam to the large boulder section fo the southwest breakwater, toward the green harbor light.  A timber with a rod through it, a bent metal strap, a 26-inch diameter forged iron ring bolted together and a 5-foot long 1.5 inch steel rod were found either in the sand along the base of the boulders, or on the smaller rocks near the boulders.  The largest piece found was a wooden deck clamp 14 feet long, with several steel rods holding two wooden timbers together, which had a 4-inch space between the wood pieces.

The crew completed the dive, removed their gear to camp and enjoyed a hot shower.  The women joined the men at Steve's campsite to share some grilled brats and other tasty items the group brought.  Refreshments around a campfire were enjoyed afterwards.  Conversation included impressions of the sea plane taking off in the harbor near the lighthouse on the east breakwater.  It was an impressive sight.  The schooner that sailed in and out of the harbor was also observed as a neat sight.  Everyone had a fun time with this relaxing event after a full day of diving and project work.
 
A light rain occurred during the night, but did not seem to affect visibility the next day.

Sunday, August 21, 2011 - Project Finalized.

One dive was conducted along the rocky breakwater that protected the marina.  Only one artifact was found that looked like it may have come from a shipwreck.  It was a 12-inch long rod with a washer held on one end by a head on the rod.  Some old tires, a 55 gallon drum half buried nthe sand (probably filled with cement) and a large rough concrete-covered timber frame were found along the breakwater.  The later items were harbor discards and not related to either of the shipwrecks.  The crew packed up afterwards and broke camp to return home.





  Project Photos


                                                                                   



Grand marais 2011 Documentation Crew - Jeff Lee, Dale Koziol & Steve Daniel




Dive briefing with skipper to track markers and finds.




Author signs a Shipwrecks book from interested observer.




Dale gets his boat ready for surface duties.




Divers enter water for 1st Dive.




First marker up on Elgin Knees & Hatch Combing.




Jeff & Steve surface to signal info to Dale in boat.




Float Plane flies out of harbor on tour.




Schooner sailed in and out of harbor, away from divers.




End of 3rd successful Dive & time to rest!




Back at Camp for a BBQ & Campfire.




Sunday morning Dive #4 along the breakwater by the Marina.




Liberty Anchor in front of Cook County Historical Museum. 




Museum Sign describing what happened to the Liberty.




Nee Gee Fishing Trawler, which once conducted commercial fishing operations on Lake Superior.



Closing


This project was the fourth time that the leader had been diving in Grand Marais Harbor.  It was observed that some artifacts that had been seen earlier were no longer visible on the sandy bottom.  This was especially true of the Liberty artifacts near the large rock breakwater.  Four years ago, the small capstan was observed on the bottom, along with many brass fittings, charred wood pieces and some pipes.  In 2009, while diving with Dave Cooper, of the National park Service, we discovered a 5 -foot wide wooden winch that was intact with warping heads and chain drums.  We also saw a propeller shaft saddle, a large brass steam valve, a metal box, drift bolts, ship planking spikes and a long sectioon of the 3-inch wide rub rail, perforated with bolt holes spaced at regular intervals.  It is thought that winter storms may cover and uncover things over time.  A return visit to some of these areas may lead to more interesting artifacts to photograph.

Next year we would like to consider towing a diver underwater on a plane device, to scan a larger area of the bottom of the harbor.  Some objects that were observed briefly when this was done in 2008 with Randy Beebe and Dave Cooper, may still be accessible for marking, photographing and measuring.

In addition to meeting and talking to many visitors who were very interested in what we were doing, a boater commented to the leader that he had pulled up the anchor from the Liberty and provided it to the Cook Country Historical Museum across the harbor in town.  I stopped over to take a photo of the anchor in front of the museum, after we were packed up.  Unfortunately, the museum was not open on Sunday.  The ship's wheel from the S.S. America is inside the museum.  It was donated to the museum after the East Bay hotel was sold a few years ago.

The anchor person also related that the city's plan (now on hold) was to construct a spoked dock design that would extend toward the center of the harbor.  If a marina expansion were to occur in the future, the GLSPS would work with the MHS SHPO to consider relocating artifacts from the affected expansion area to in an underwater area of the harbor that would be protected from marina use.

This project was a success, due to the excellent efforts of the GLSPS volunteers.  Our thanks to Dale Koziol, Jeff Lee and his wife Sarah who helped make it possible.  The results will be shared with the Minnesota Historical Society State Historic Preservation Office.

Check back early next year to see our plans for another interesting project in Grand Marais Harbor.

Steve Daniel
GLSPS Board Member, Author, PIB Committee Chairman
& Grand Marais Harbor Shipwreck Artifact Documentation Leader

Email: sbdaniel1@mmm.com
Cell Phone: 651-470-5389