Erie County recently submitted a proposal to include the
majority of Pennsylvania’s Lake Erie waters in a National Marine Sanctuary that
will highlight the region’s submerged cultural and historical resources. Ben
Ford contributed the submerged maritime heritage portion of the proposal.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National
Marine Sanctuary (NMS) System is a network of underwater parks encompassing
some of the most important submerged cultural, geological, and biological
resources in the nation. The system stretches from Florida to Michigan and from
Samoa to Massachusetts.
The NMS System was recently opened to public nominations, and
Erie County was the sixth community to submit an application. The Lake Erie
Quadrangle application highlights the region’s maritime heritage with a
particular focus on Pennsylvania shipwrecks. Pennsylvania’s Lake Erie waters
are an underwater museum containing nearly every type of ship that operated on
the Great Lakes during the historic period.
Ford was tasked with writing a
summary of the Lake Erie Quadrangles maritime heritage resources. He compiled a
list of 196 vessels that sank within the proposed sanctuary and details on the 35
identified shipwrecks. Lake Erie is unique among the Great Lakes in that its
shallow depth makes these wrecks accessible to most divers.
The full Lake Erie Quadrangle application is available on
the NMS nominations page.
Cover of Lake Erie Quadrangle National Marine Sanctuary Application
Department of Anthropology