NYSG Partners with PA Sea Grant on Traveling Lake Erie Shipwrecks Exhibit
Great Lakes Boating & Marine Trades - Press Release

Special Artifacts ID Events Planned With Archaeologists on February 6th and March 5th


Dave White, New York Sea Grant, E: dgw9@cornell.edu, P: 315.312.3042

Kara Lynn Dunn, Publicist, E: karalynn@gisco.net, P: 315.465.7578

Robb Frederick, Public Information Coordinator, Penn State Behrend, E: rgf10@psu.edu, P: 814-898-6063

A sampling of New York Sea Grant's traveling shipwreck exhibit panels and maps making their way to Erie, Pennsylvania's Tom Ridge Environmental Center. The exhibit, which last stopped at the Lake Erie Seaway Trail Visitor Center in Hamburg, NY for a two month stay that wrapped up in January 2016, was also on display during summer 2015 at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, in early 2015 at SUNY Oswego and at 2014 Great New York State Fair in Syracuse, NY. Photo: Lake Erie Seaway Trail

ERIE, PA, January 27, 2016 - Lake Erie’s richest history is 60 feet beyond our reach – in the wreckage of the Canobie, the Abyssinia, the Dean Richmond and the S.K. Martin.

A new exhibit at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center tells the stories of those ships, the men lost with them and the work on maritime trade routes that allowed Erie and other waterfront cities to grow. The exhibit, “Great Lakes Shipwrecks,” opens Feb. 1 and will continue through April 25 in the second-floor gallery at TREC. This exhibit stop is sponsored by Pennsylvania Sea Grant, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Erie Maritime Museum and the Erie County Historical Society.

Admission to the exhibit is free and open to the public daily from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.

"Capturing the fascinating maritime heritage of New York State in this exhibit is proving to be a great way to encourage interest in education, underwater science innovation, and waterfront tourism as an economic engine for our coastal communities," says exhibit coordinator Dave White, New York Sea Grant Coastal Recreation and Tourism Specialist and associate director of the Great Lakes Research Consortium.

“This is an opportunity to appreciate the wonders beneath the waters,” adds David Boughton, a Maritime Education Specialist for Pennsylvania Sea Grant, an outreach collaboration of the Pennsylvania State University, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “Each of these shipwrecks tells a story.”

Few are as dramatic as the sinking of the New Connecticut, a schooner that capsized in 1833. The crew escaped, but a passenger – the aunt of Captain Gilman Appleby – was trapped in her cabin. Three days later, a diver probed the wreckage with a pike, looking for her body. Two days after that, the ship was raised and towed to port. When the salvage crew righted it, the woman staggered onto the deck, alive. She had found an air pocket and survived five days in shoulder-deep water.

The Great Lakes are littered with broken ships. Experts believe at least 6,000 vessels, and perhaps as many as 25,000, rest on the lakes’ floors. For each wreck that has been commemorated – including the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, which inspired a hit song by Gordon Lightfoot – a dozen others have been forgotten.

“Great Lakes Shipwrecks” revives their stories in the best way possible: with underwater photographs, maps and actual wreckage that has washed ashore at Presque Isle State Park.

Displays developed by New York Sea Grant and Seaway Trails fit the wrecks within the historical context of maritime commerce and transport on the Great Lakes, from sailing ships to steamers and beyond. Equipment used to conduct underwater surveys – including sonar gear, commercial scuba diving suits and research-grade and student-built Remotely Operated Vehicles and cameras – also is on display.

On Feb. 6 and March 5, archaeologists will be on hand to identify and document any shipwreck artifacts found by local citizens. Interviews will be recorded for a “Living History” project focused on shipwreck sites, stories and artifacts and the history of commercial waterfront operations. That work will help shape the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s coastal zone management marine spatial survey and will support the campaign to designate Presque Isle Bay as a National Marine Sanctuary.

“Great Lakes Shipwrecks” was curated with funding from Penn State and the Pennsylvania Coastal Resources Management Program.

For more information, or to schedule a living history interview, contact David Boughton at dbb11@psu.edu or (814) 720-0746. For class trips and other educational opportunities, contact Beth McLaughlin at beth@regsciconsort.com or (814) 833-6050.

At the late-October 2015 Erie Seaway Trail Visitor Center's launch of the Great Lakes Shipwrecks exhibit with (l-r): Francine Geyer, Cindy Cervoni, NYSG's Dave White and Helen Domske, Lyn Braun, Mike Anzalone. Photo: Lake Erie Seaway Trail

More Info: New York Sea Grant

New York Sea Grant (NYSG), a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York, is one of 33 university-based programs under the National Sea Grant College Program (NSGCP) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The NSGCP engages this network of the nation’s top universities in conducting scientific research, education, training and extension projects designed to foster science-based decisions about the use and conservation of our aquatic resources. Through its statewide network of integrated services, NYSG has been promoting coastal vitality, environmental sustainability, and citizen awareness about the State’s marine and Great Lakes resources since 1971.

New York Sea Grant maintains Great Lakes offices at SUNY Buffalo, the Wayne County Cooperative Extension office in Newark and at SUNY Oswego.

For updates on Sea Grant activities: www.nyseagrant.org has RSS, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube links. NYSG also offers a free e-list sign up via www.nyseagrant.org/coastlines for its flagship publication, NY Coastlines/Currents, which is published several times a year.

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