Fall 2001 Wisconsin Field Project
The East Carolina University Fall field semester of 2001 returned to Door County, Wisconsin, to continue research in Sturgeon Bay. Last year a number of known wrecks were visited at this location, but detailed mapping was postponed. The most significant of these wrecks was a scow schooner that operated in the stone trade, transporting dolomitic limestone from the local quarries. The student participants this year were Alena Derby, Kate Goodall, Jason Paling, John Hart Asher, and Keith Meverden. The instructors were Dr. Brad Rodgers and Dr. Annalies Corbin from East Carolina University and Jeff Gray, Russ Green, and Cathy Green from the Wisconsin Historical Society. We stayed in Wisconsin for three weeks, from September 16 through October 5, making our home base at Birmingham’s Cottages, just steps away from the dive site.
The focus of our field school was the documentation of the scow schooner, known by locals as the Dan Hayes. On the first day, we were given an orientation to the area, and then suited up in wetsuits and snorkels to go exploring in the bay. Dragging buoys and ropes, the students performed a line search to locate and mark all of the scattered wreckage. The next few days were occupied with the laying down, tightening up, and measuring of a base- line. Crosslines were also established at ten-foot intervals.
Our daylight hours were spent mapping the shipwreck, then warming up after the chilly dives in Lake Michigan waters, even with drysuits. The evenings were occupied with creating the base map of the site and updating the website, Notes from the Field http://shsw.wisc.edu/shipwrecks /notes, sponsored by the Wisconsin State Historical Society.
Bad weather for a few days forced us to visit land sites and learn a bit more of the local history in alternative classroom situations. An examination of the stern section of the Mueller, a wooden-hulled screw propeller located in a nearby park, gave insight on dating a ship by its machinery. We explored the bowels of the Straits of Mackinac, a retired car ferry whose destiny is to be cleaned and then sunk in Lake Michigan as a recreational dive destination. A day in Jacksonport gave us the opportunity to dive on several other schooners that were lost while tied to a pier. We also visited the Maritime Museum in Gills Rock and the Door County Maritime Museum in Sturgeon Bay. Bill Thiesen, an ECU Maritime Studies Program graduate, gave us a personal tour of the Manitowoc Maritime Museum and its collections.
Mapping of the scow site then began in earnest the middle of the second week. Students were given ten-foot grids to measure and draw. During the evenings, the information from the dive slates was transcribed onto a scale site map. Watching the map grow up from the graph paper, based upon mylar sketches, into something that resembled a shipwreck was quite rewarding. While the students were in the water, the instructors conducted a land survey of the area in order to create a map of the jetties and shoreline. Additional measurements were made by wading a stadia rod into the bay to measure the depth contours and underwater reef structures.
Time eventually ran short for completion of the survey and as it came down to the wire, everyone extended their bottom times in the frigid water to finish mapping the wreck. Unfortunately, storms and windy weather limited our diving opportunities, and we were not able to explore as many sites as had been originally planned, but we finished our goal, the site map of the Dan Hayes. Trying to beat the next impending snowstorm, we removed the baseline and packed up for the long drive home to North Carolina.