Friday, September 19, 2014


In 1992 a shipwreck was discovered in 70 to 80 feet of water off of Cleveland, OH. in Lake Erie. It has just been definitively identified. Updated 2/24/216

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Schooner circa 1891, Photo Library of Congress (PD) 

Last year (2013) The National Museum of the Great Lakes and divers of the Cleveland Under Water Explorers (CLUE) at the urging of the wreck's discoverer, diver Rob Rietschle decided to try to identify the wreck. The wreck is located in 70 feet of water off of Cleveland and was long assumed to be the wreck of the schooner  MACKINAW. But a series of dives on the wreck turned up hull structures inconsistent with the schooner MACKINAW. Both gross hull measurements and remaining structures were inconsistent and bow ornamentation very unique for determining the identity of the wreck once the search turned to library research were recorded in a series of dives. Most importantly divers discovered a big gash in the midbody of the which forensic marine surveyors determined were the results of a collision with a powered vessel running at about 17 kts. 
From Period Advertising (PD)

The vessel is now definitively identified as the schooner PLYMOUTH. The PLYMOUTH was struck by the Sidewheel steamer NORTHERN INDIANA on June 23, 1852. The Plymouth's collision  combined with the subsequent sinking with loss of life of the NORTHERN INDIANA 2 years later would result in precedent making admiralty legislation and litigation.  Library and archival research showed that the PLYMOUTH was carrying a load of unrefined wheat and refined flour to Buffalo NY when she was hit  by the side wheel steamer NORTHERN INDIANA. at about 1:00 AM on June 23, 1852.. The resulting litigation fueled legislation that reformed the types of ship's "running lights" used on the Great Lakes.  The legislation resulting from the accident history of the Schooner Plymouth and Steamer NORTHERN INDIANA now forms part of the "deep legislative history" of the Inland Navigational Rules to Avoid Collision. The final resting place of the NORTHERN INDIANA had been definitively determined earlier. We have links below to more comprehensive and illustrated coverage of both stories.
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