Skip to Main Content

Events

January 26

2018

GREAT LAKES SHIPWRECK EXHIBITION at TREC

GREAT LAKES SHIPWRECK EXHIBITION OFFERS TALES OF TALL SEAS, TRAGEDY & THE SCIENCE BEHIND SHIPWRECK EXPLORATION

(ERIE, PA) – Pennsylvania Sea Grant and partners proudly unveil “The Great Lakes Shipwreck Exhibition,” a public exhibit opening November 18 at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center (TREC) in Erie, PA. Hosted by the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), this exhibit is free and open to the public from 10:00 AM until 6:00 PM, through April 13, 2018.

The Great Lakes Shipwreck exhibition features stories from throughout the Great Lakes, with a focus on Lake Erie’s treacherous and unpredictable waters. Marine archaeologists and historical researchers have identified as many as 132 sunken ships off the shores of Pennsylvania’s 76-mile Lake Erie coastline, with estimates suggesting the number could equal that of a naval fleet. All told, as many as 25,000 sunken ships may lie at the bottom of the five Great Lakes – each with a story to tell.

“We need to fully survey, record and understand what we have below our waters to properly tell the story, protect and conserve these maritime treasures, and honor the sailors who lost their lives to the unpredictably treacherous waters of the Great Lakes,” said David Boughton, Maritime Educator for Pennsylvania Sea Grant and Exhibit Lead. “Our team of volunteer divers are certified in survey techniques by leading maritime archaeologist, Dr. Ben Ford, to measure and photograph the debris fields and characterize the location, so that each site can be cataloged into the state historic office inventory and be shared with future generations.”

One of the many stories is that of the tugboat Admiral. On December 2, 1942, her crew of fourteen set out from Cleveland, Ohio on the wintery waters of Lake Erie, towing the tanker barge Cleveco, which was transporting an estimated one million gallons of wartime fuel oil. A fierce winter gale took hold of the Admiral and Cleveco, sinking both ships just off the coast of Ohio. The Admiral’s crew of fourteen and the Cleveco’s crew of 18 all lost their lives that night. Along with the crews, nearly one million gallons of fuel oil went down with the ship. The disaster of the Admiral and Cleveco and the resulting spill have necessitated the development of emergency cleanup procedures for state and federal environmental agencies.

Just a few years later, in 1946, while walking along the shores of Lake Erie in Pennsylvania at Presque Isle State Park, James Coursey, of Erie, discovered a life ring on the shores of Presque Isle beach from the sunken Admiral. The story of the sinking and the life ring will be a feature of the exhibit.

The initial shipwreck exhibit was first unveiled at TREC in January 2017. During that time, over 21,000 visitors attended the exhibit. This year, the exhibit will be open for six months and feature new displays including artifacts from the US Brig Lawerance, the Wolverene, Graveyard pond, and a simulated debris field of the 1840 ship, the St Louis. Specialized diving equipment, survey tools, Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs), ship models, and a gallery of underwater videography by the survey team’s underwater videographer, drawings by a gifted technical artist, and a diorama of Fort Presque Isle will all be on display.

Newspaper accounts, historical photos and underwater surveys will help tell the story of our maritime history. Legendary tales like the Griffon, the first ship to set sail in the Great Lakes, the sinking of the Daniel Morrell, the Bessemer and Marquette, and the mystery of an 1852 submarine sunk in Lake Erie will all be featured, as well as other tales of adventure and intrigue.

Visitors can learn about the underwater process of researching, conserving and surveying these submerged cultural resources, by the volunteers of the Pennsylvania Archaeological and Shipwreck Survey Team (PASST), and see the underwater realm via underwater videos of dive operations and living history interviews. Visitors can also get a first-hand look at the “Cutter” and a nine-pound carronade from the US Brig Niagara, on-loan from the Erie Maritime Museum.

In addition to the self-guided tours, the public is invited to sign-up for guided small-group tours, interactive sessions, a lecture series, living history interviews, and an “artifact show & tell” session, which are all being scheduled through April 2018. Marine archeology classes for students and teachers will also be offered.

The “Great Lakes Shipwreck Exhibition” is the result of collaborative efforts by many stakeholders, funding through the PA DEP’s PA Coastal Resources Management Program and by Penn State University, and hundreds of volunteer hours by the maritime divers and researchers of the PASST team. The exhibit was developed by Pennsylvania Sea Grant, the Regional Science Consortium, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Erie Maritime Museum, and the Erie County Historical Society.

In addition to the above, PA Sea Grant would like to recognize and thank the following partners and volunteers: Divers World, SONS of Lake Erie, Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission (PHMC), Dr. Ben Ford Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Erie Community Foundation, Erie Yacht Club, Erie Insurance, and Mercyhurst University.

For more information, or to schedule a living history interview, contact David Boughton at dbb11@psu.edu or (814) 720-0746. For class trips and other educational opportunities, contact Beth McLaughlin at beth@regsciconsort.com or (814) 833-6050.

Media Contacts:
Kelly Donaldson
PA Sea Grant Communications Lead
717.350.3913

Mary Jo Rutkowski
PA DCNR Community Relations Specialist
814-833-5049

Partner Spotlight

u pick 6 spotlight

U Pick 6 Craft Beer Pubs & Restaurants

Erie’s own local craft beer pubs are a must-visit! With 4 great locations, just pick one that’s convenient for you! A casual, family friendly dining experience with something for everyone! To view our menu, check out what’s on tap, or get to directions to our pubs, learn more now!”

Learn More

spotlight bayfront grille

Igloo Dining at the Bayfront Grille!

You can now call in to reserve Igloo Dining at the Bayfront Grille!❄ Igloo Dining will begin November 15th and we will be offering time slots during lunch and dinner. The Igloos are perfect for any special day including Anniversaries, Birthdays, Honeymoons, and so much more. You can't get this opportunity anywhere else in Erie, PA and we are ecstatic for you to experience it!

Learn More

Creation Station

Creation Station

The Creation Station is an unique arts and crafts studio where kids can create and have fun!
Book your birthday party, register for a ladies night out or stop in during open Craft days and choose a project from the project board.

Learn More

Spotlight Mazza Vinyards

Mazza Vineyards and the South Shore Wine Company

Enjoy a scenic ride to North East and stop into family owned Mazza Vineyards and the historic South Shore Wine Company to sip and savor the local flavor.

Learn More

millcreek mall

Millcreek Mall

A destination for shopping, dining and entertainment.
Experience it all!

Learn More

spotlight Erei Airport

New Direct Daily Flights to Washington, DC

Erie International Airport now offers two direct daily flights to and from Washington Dulles International Airport with connecting flights to the east coast, west coast and international destinations. Book your flight today!

Learn More

spotlgiht the cove

The Cove Bay-Side Restaurant & Tavern

Join us today! The Cove Bay-Side Restaurant & Tavern is sure to give you an unforgettable and care-free dining experience. Enjoy a nautical atmosphere with a beautiful view of Presque Isle Bay.

Learn More

the erie port

Port of Erie!

Located on the southeast shore of Lake Erie, the Port of Erie has been promoting industrial, commercial, and recreational opportunities on the waters of Lake Erie since 1959.

Learn More

erie reginal chambers

Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership

The Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership is leading Erie's economic evolution. We're the heart of the business community to champion a vibrant and sustainable economy. Your business is our business. Become a member and increase your brand awareness, advocate for important business issues, and gain access to people, education, and information integral to elevating your team's success.

Learn More

port farms wild feathers

Wild Feathers Concert at Port Farms May 15th!

Bring the entire family out to Port Farms on May 15th to enjoy live music from Nashville band, The Wild Feathers! The band has unique blends of Southern rock, Americana, and heartland pop! PLUS, Port Farms activities will be open for the entire family during the show! Tickets are ON SALE NOW for this family-friendly event!
Tickets: $15 in advance // $20 day of show
Doors open: 4:00 PM // Showtime 7:00 PM
Food and drink options available for purchase.

Learn More

spotlight the cork

The Cork 1794

The Cork 1794 is the perfect spot for a date night or special occasion!

Learn More