Sunday, August 19, 2001

Shipwreck preservation urged

Plan would affect sites in Lake Erie

The Associated Press

        KELLEYS ISLAND, Ohio — State officials have a plan to protect shipwrecks around Kelleys Island in western Lake Erie.

        The shipwreck preserve would ring the island to about two miles out, covering 40 square miles under the plan released Friday.

        The area includes at least eight shipwrecks, and project officials hope to have three of those sites marked off for divers to explore next summer, said Mike Colvin, director of the coastal management program for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

        “I'm anticipating that if things continue to go well, we could file the rules during the winter months and dedicate a preserve by next spring,” Mr. Colvin said.

        Diving teams have mapped three wrecks in the area — the F.H. Prince, off the island's east shore, and the Adventure and the W.R. Hanna, north of the island. There are as many as 30 wrecks nearby, state officials said.

        Kelleys Island is on the National Register of Historic Places but that doesn't protect offshore wrecks. State law prohibits divers from removing artifacts from wrecks without a permit, but the law is rarely enforced.

        Under the plan, mooring buoys would be set up around the three mapped ships to help divers locate the wrecks and boaters to avoid them.

        Organizers hope the preserve will encourage historical research on shipwrecks and the island's maritime heritage.

        “This is bigger than shipwrecks under the water,” Mr. Colvin said. “It's about the heritage of this island and this area.”

        Much of that history stems from the limestone industry. The steam barge Adventure was hauling powdered limestone when it caught fire and sank in 1903.

        The Hanna is a scow-schooner, a sailing vessel with a flat bottom that was used for hauling limestone.

        The ship sank off the island's north coast in 1886 while carrying a load of the stone intended for use in Lake Erie breakwaters off Cleveland.

        The Prince, a 230-foot freighter converted to a sand dredge, caught fire in 1911 off the east end of Kelleys Island. The captain ran the ship aground, saving the crew, but it sank a few days later in 18 feet of water about a half mile offshore.

        “What makes this area interesting is there's not just one type of vessel,” said Charles Herdendorf, a diving instructor who manages the Lake Erie Shipwreck Research Center in Vermilion. “There's a good diversity of shipwreck types.”


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Local Digest
- Shipwreck preservation urged