Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Judge Rules 19th Century Lake Erie Shipwreck to Remain Sunk

Agreeing with state attorneys, U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie G. Foschio has ruled that the state of New York, under the U.S. Abandoned Shipwreck Act, is the owner of a 19th century sailing ship sunk in Lake Erie near Dunkirk.

The two-masted wooden sailing ship may have been used by the British during the War of 1812 and later may have had a role in the Underground Railroad, transporting escaped slaves from the United States to Canada, Foschio said in court papers.

Since 2004, officials of Northeast Research, a private company that specializes in searching for shipwrecks, have been seeking ownership of the vessel, which they want to raise from the lake’s depths and put on display on Buffalo’s waterfront.

But historic preservation officials in state government contend that the ship is better off where it is, in a deep pocket of the lake about 20 miles from Dunkirk.

State officials also contend that divers working for Northeast Research damaged the ship and mishandled human remains on the ship during a dive to examine the vessel in 2004.

Your thoughts?

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Diving Discoveries said...

The wreck is definitely a piece of history worth restoring. I understand why the court ruled in favor of the state of New York, but I really wish they would do something to restore it.

Why not have the state of New York hire Northeast Resarch to restore it and put it on display near the waterfront?

The only thing is that damage has already been done to the ship by other divers, so who knows if they´ll do anything to try and bring the ship out of the water.

Neutral Dive Gear said...

It's certainly an interesting debate -- whether the ship does more good restored and on display or resting in relative peace at the bottom of a lake.

We tend to agree with you, that it would be great to see the ship resurrected and restored, bringing its historical education to the surface.

Tanks for commenting, DD!

Anonymous said...

Of course, we must all recall the story of the 2-masted schooner Alvin Clark recovered by history minded divers fromt he waters of Green Bay in 1969. The wood began to rot and the divers did not have the millions of dollar necessary to properly concerve the waterlooged wood so that it could be stablaized in perpetuity. Eventually it rotted and had to be sent to a landfill. Yes, this wreck would be great to see in the light of day, BUT do we/or government have millions to spend on the effort? I think it would be better to take 1/100th of the amount of money to recover and restore it and develop a museum exhibit with photos, video and interpretive data.