(Under the direction of Professor Gordon Watts) Department of History, April 1993.
This multi-disciplinary study incorporates history, anthropology and archaeology to interpret the submerged cultural resources of Whitefish Point, Michigan. Since the author used several different methods of interpretation, the total knowledge about Whitefish Point and its submerged sites is greater than the data gained by each discipline separately.
Confirmed occupation of Whitefish Point dates to the Woodland period. In 1968, Donald Janzen published The Naomikong Point Site and The Dimensions of Laurelin the Lake Superior Region. The submerged site revealed artifacts indicating Middle to Late Woodland occupation.
Historically, vessels confront the point before heading out into the main body of Lake Superior. Over the centuries beaver, fish, cooper, iron, grain, coal and lumber supported a variety of maritime based cultures. Profits from iron ore production caused increases in shipping, and Whitefish Point's lee side became a refuge for ships when storms raged on Lake Superior. Shipwrecks occurred in increasing numbers around Whitefish Point, hence its name Graveyard of the Great Lakes.
The Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society (hereafter GLSHS) was formed by a group of divers in 1978 and is dedicated to locating, documenting, and preserving those shipwrecks. Unfortunately, artifacts associated with the wrecks are being removed by divers before documentation can be accomplished. Laws enacted by the state of Michigan are difficult to enforce due to a limited state budget. This thesis represents an effort to support to the GLSHS's objectives through historical and archaeological research.
A preliminary survey of shipwrecks conducted during the summer of 1992 in the Whitefish Point vicinity facilitated the effort. The GLSHS employed side-scan sonar, along with a magnetometer to locate significant shipwrecks. Historical and literature research has been used to develop a historical background that can be used to interpret the archaeological record.