David J. Cooper
1986-1987 ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY OF THE SCHOONER FLEETWING SITE, 47DR168, GARRETT BAY, WISCONSIN.
(Under the direction of Professor William N. Still) Department of History, October 1987.
The purpose of this study is to document archaeologically and historically the extant wreakage of a nineteenth century Great Lakes schooner found in Garrett Bay, Wisconsin. Research methodology includes an underwater archaeological survey of the site as well as a historical study of the vessel itself. Using a grant from the East Carolina University Program in Maritime History and Underwater Research the author, accompanied by the Program staff archaeologist and two volunteers, surveyed the site of a well-known shipwreck reputed to be that of the schooner Fleetwing, lost in 1888.
With a boat, survey equipment, and diving gear loaned by the Program, the project staff surveyed the site in August, 1986 to form a basic site plan of the orientation and location of six major sections of wreakage. Then, with mapping equipment, the wreakage sections were drawn in detail and analyzed for construction methodology and identified as to probable original function in the former vessel. 1987 work centered on photographic documentation and wood sampling.
The historical background produces an overall view of the evolution of Great Lakes maritime history, and especially the development of the Great Lakes schooner. This design was produced by a complex interplay of economics, geography, commerce, regional weather, and the traditions of marine architecture. A specific historical investigation of the schooner Fleetwing reveals the vessel's own place in these regional patterns, and provides concrete examples of their effect in vessel design and usage. The historical assertions regarding ship construction are backed by archaeological data from the Fleetwing itself, as well as three other Lake vessels.
Additionally, the study of the Fleetwing raises several questions regarding the circumstances of her loss, and includes a discussion of specific navigational and financial problems which may have contributed to her fate.
Apart from documenting and interpreting one of Wisconsin's better-known submerged cultural resources, the Fleetwing study attempts to place this genre of vessel in its historical perspective with a discussion of its construction, use, and the persons that surrounded it. It also seeks to enlighten the reader to the value of Great Lakes submerged cultural resources and their present lack of protection or preservational efforts.