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Dec. 2007 Vol 10 Letter From the Board Dear MSRA Members,

2008 is shaping up to be the most active and exciting year for MSRA. First and foremost, we head into the year as an official 501c3 organization. While MSRA was formed as a non-profit, it has not been considered a charitable organization until the exhaustive process of application and review. This was completed virtually without any outside (and costly) assistance, a hallmark of MSRAs operation. The year will see the mounting of two different exhibits highlighting the work of MSRA- one with the Zeeland Historical Society and one with the Heritage Museum. It will also see the publication of a book “From Hennepin to the Thousand Footers – The Rise of the SelfUnloaders by Bill Lafferty and I due out mid year. And there is always the hopefulness of one or two discoveries. Working with both NUMA and David Trotter, MSRA has a better-than-normal chance of making a discovery this year, because we will be expanding areas covered in prior years as we search for Flight 2501 and the Andaste. And as always there remains the possibility of a surprise discovery. We hope that you will be a part of this exciting year will your continued membership and joining the team for the 10 th annual “Mysteries and Histories- Beneath the Inland Seas.”

Valerie van Heest Director, MSRA

Its Official!

Hennepin listed on National Register of Historic Places Following MSRA’s 2006 discovery of the Hennepin in 230 feet of water off South Haven, Michigan, MSRA set out to nominate this important vessel to the National Register of Historic Places. This effort marks the first nomination prepared by a non-government entity, the first nomination of a Lake Michigan shipwreck in Michigan waters and most significantly, the first nomination of a shipwreck made within a year of its discovery before it has became a recreational dive site. MSRA’s Valerie van Heest collaborated with maritime historian William Lafferty to write the nomination, which was presented and unanimously accepted by the State Historic Preservation Board in September 2007. The State forwarded that nomination on to the National Park Service and in spring 2008, the site was formally listed. Despite the immense area of bottomlands belonging to Michigan and the large number of shipwrecks in that area, Hennepin is only the 10th shipwreck listed on the register in the State of Michigan. MSRA plans to place a marker at the site this summer. MSRA will announce the coordinates to the diving public on May 3rd at the and then release the coordinates to divers so that others may visit this unique historical treasure.

Keep an eye out for: The Summer special issue of Michigan History Magazine called Destinations. It will feature an article by Valerie van Heest about the Michigan Underwater Preserve System. The state is recognizing the power of shipwrecks as tourist destinations!

Reserve Tickets now to MSRA’s 10th annual shipwreck show on May 3rd. details page 4 Please do not confuse this show with other area programs calling themselves ” shipwreck show”

The Explorer is a regular publication of MSRA distributed via email. For more information visit Page 1

“A Freshwater Monsoon” to Debut on May 3rd! In 2006 during their annual expedition to discover lost shipwrecks, MSRA came upon an unexpected discovery: a two-masted schooner in deep water off Saugatuck, Michigan. During the summer of 2007, working with their technical diving team, Robert Underhill, Jeff Vos and Todd White, MSRA was able to identify the wreck and place it in its proper historical context within Great Lakes maritime history. The most difficult aspect of this project was actually identifying the wreck. Several schooners have gone missing off the shores of West Michigan, however little archival information remains to help pinpoint the exact location of the sinking of the ships. After more than a year of study, they have been able to determine the identity with some certainly and have been able to tie the vessel into the burgeoning 19th century lumber industry in West Michigan. The original framed ink drawing of Artist Robert Doornbos’s rendering of the newly discovered schooner will be auctioned off at the 10th annual Mysteries and Histories Program. Prints suitable for framing will also be available.

Their efforts will debut in Michigan at the annual “Mysteries and Histories Beneath The Inland Seas” event on May 3rd at the Knickerbocker Theatre in a program entitled “A Freshwater Monsoon.” Tickets for the annual program are available by sending in a check, or by using PayPal at MSRA’s web site, .

MSRA Uncovers Information on little little--known Wreck While almost everybody knows Northwest Airlines Flight 2501 crashed somewhere between St. Joseph and South Haven in 1950, almost nobody knows about another plane crash that happened the same year, and between the same two cities as Flight 2501. On Monday, April 10, 1950, a Navy PV-2 Neptune bomber ditched along the shore of Lake Michigan, after circling the Benton Harbor/ St. Joe area for two hours. The plane was returning from a weekend flight to Bermuda by way of Norfolk, VA., when its crew lost their bearings. Heavy rain and fog made visibility almost zero. The bomber came to rest in 8’ of water off Jean Klock Park. The pilot decided to ditch the plane when it had only minutes of fuel left. He put her down on the glassy calm water with the landing gear up, making a “slap” sound upon impact. All eight of the crew made it to shore with the help of local residents in a canoe. The bomber was salvaged a week later by the Speidel Marine Construction company, under contract with the U.S. Navy. The salvage company lifted the bomber aboard a barge using a large crane mounted on the barge. The bomber was then brought out to deep water, per Navy protocol, and dropped to the bottom, where she still lies today. The bomber was remarkably intact when dumped over the side of the barge, and most likely remains in pristine condition, waiting to be discovered and explored. Thanks to MSRA member and researcher, Chriss Lyon, who was doing some research on Flight 2501, this story was uncovered and will prove invaluable in the quest to make this piece of history known and possibly to uncover its location in the future. Ross Richardson

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New Publishing company launched as a partner to MSRA In-Depth Editions, has recently been launched to serve as the publishing partner for MSRA. It has published the first of multiple books being developed by the MSRA Board, its members and affiliates. “ICEBOUND! The Adventures of Young George Sheldon and the SS Michigan”, is a young readers book, written by Valerie van Heest. ICEBOUND! is an illustrated, inspiring two-part story of perseverance and bravery that begins in 1885 with the story of the ordeal of the crew of the SS Michigan. The crew of the SS Michigan was stranded on their ship in the thick ice of Lake Michigan for 40 days before escaping just prior to the ships being crushes and sinking in 275 feet of water. The book concludes in the present day with the discovery of the wreck by MSRA. The book has already received an honor. The Association for Great Lakes Maritime History has awarded MSRA with a publishing grant for the book. Visit their web site at to learn more about preserving Great Lakes maritime History

Valerie will be signing copies of her books at the May 3rd Program. If you can’t be there, consider ordering your copy at

Take advantage of all the MSRA team, the technical diving team and David Trotter, who will be at the May 3rd program, and have everyone sign your book!


All ages enjoy ICEBOUND too! Page 3

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MSRA Partners with Zeeland Historical Society in new exhibit: Lost and Found Shipwrecks of West Michigan

LOST AND FOUND! Shipwrecks of West Michigan Of the estimated 2,000 to 3,000 ships gone missing on Lake Michigan, dozens of shipwrecks lie scattered off the shores of Western Michigan, recalling the roots of these lakeshore communities that developed largely because of their proximity to the water-based transportation system. Decades later, these submerged ships have become cultural and historical artifacts. Serendipitously, the waters off Western Michigan contain a wide variety of vessel types. If studied together, they offer a nearly complete representation of the evolution of marine transportation and travel on Lake Michigan. All are maintained in a nearly timeless state of preservation by the fresh waters. Finding these shipwrecks is a challenge. Recent expeditions by Michigan Shipwrecks Research Associates have uncovered many lost vessels. Study and documentation of these shipwrecks has broadened the rich cultural fabric of our communities, so steeped in maritime history. Reef your sails, stoke your fires, gas up your engine and don your scuba gear to explore the lost and found shipwrecks off western Michigan.

The Verano finally reaches Port

This beautiful painting of the Verano will make its debut at the Zeeland Exhibit. MSRA wishes to extend thanks to Carolyn Maruggi and her family for their offer to bring the painting back into the Great Lakes Region. It is almost as if the Verano made it home to port!

Several months ago, a woman from the East Coast, Carolyn Maruggi, ordered one of MSRA DVDs- “The Verano, a Porthole to the Past.” (about the yacht that sank in 1946 off South Haven.) In follow-up conversations, MSRA learned that Carolyn is the daughter of J. Robert Baumgartner, the second-to-the- last owner of the Verano, and inherited her father’s painting of the yacht.

The Zeeland Historical Society is mounting a nine-month exhibit that at the Dekker Huis Historical Museum at 37 East Main Street in Zeeland. The exhibit, entitled “Lost and Found – Shipwrecks of West Michigan”, will be designed by MSRA’s Valerie van Heest who will serve also as the guest curator. Artist Robert Doornbos will collaborate with van Heest on the graphic design for the panels. The exhibit will feature research from several prominent historians and authors. They include schooner expert Ted Karamanski from Chicago, Great Lakes Maritime historian C. Patrick Labadie from the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, railroad expert Robert Vande Vusse, Brendon Baillod, Stan Grayson and others including MSRA’s own Craig Rich, Ross Richardson and Geoffrey Reynolds. The exhibit will run through August and include a series of exciting programs throughout the event featuring many of the noted experts.

Introductory text for the exhibit

Carolyn generously offered to donate the painting and after lengthy discussions, MSRA arranged the donation through the Michigan Maritime Museum.

This is a sample of one of the exhibit panels currently in design Page 5

MSRA Board of Directors Valerie Olson van Heest Geoffrey Reynolds Craig Rich Ross Richardson Jack van Heest

Associates William Lafferty, PhD Director of Research Arthur Allen Oceanographer, U.S. Coast Guard Brendon Baillod Historian/Writer Jed Jaworski Maritime Historian Dr. Guy Meadows University of Michigan Kenneth Pott Maritime Archaeologist Dr. David Schwab Oceanographer, GLERL Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates, is a Michigan nonprofit corporation, whose mission is to Preserve Michigan’s submerged maritime history. To that end, the organization’s work includes research, exploration, documentation and education regarding historic shipwrecks within Michigan waters, with an initial emphasis on the area off West Michigan. MSRA works in cooperation with State Agencies. As a Holland-based volunteer-driven organization, MSRA relies on memberships, fundraising events and grants to continue its work.

Continued Research on the Andaste After the discovery of the historic Hennepin, which MSRA has proven to be the world’s first self-unloading steamer, MSRA stepped up their research on the Hennepin’s replacement ship, the Andaste, which had been modified in the early 20th century to a self-unloader with an upgraded system — the patented “tunnel scraper” system. Their research led them to begin a search expedition to uncover the location of the Andaste, teaming with shipwreck hunter David Trotter. During the 2007 search expedition, the team was able to cover more bottom territory than ever before (65 Square miles) but unfortunately, the vessel remains elusive. They are hopeful that they will be able to close in on the wreck during the 2008 expedition. MSRA is teaming with researcher William Lafferty, the country’s foremost expert on self-unloaders.

Continued Search for Northwest Flight 2501 Clive Cussler’s “National Underwater Marine Agency” continues to collaborate with MSRA to locate the submerged wreck site of Northwest Airlines Flight 2501, the country’s single greatest commercial aviation disaster in 1950. In 2007, the team covered an additional 25 square miles in search of remnants of the plane. Instead, they discovered a lone anchor and 150 feet of chain. The team suspects that when they continue to search the area in 2008 they may discover a ship that lost that anchor. Could it be the Farnum? The Kalamazoo? The Chicora? Or maybe nothing. Perhaps the ship that lost the anchor sailed safely home to port. NUMA’s Ralph Wilbanks will continue to lead the search operations on Lake Michigan

One thing is sure, MSRA has continued to research the crash of Flight 2501 and has uncovered thousands of pages of court files and contacted families of 45 of the 58 victims. What began as a historical challenge to discover a never-before-found crash site has turned into a quest to find closure for the families who lost loved ones.

MSRA receives 2008 Grant from Great Lakes Shipwreck Research Foundation For the past five years, MSRA has been awarded a grant from Great Lakes Shipwreck Research Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and organized for the purpose of furthering public awareness of our Great Lakes marine heritage through education and research, and promoting conservation, study and responsible enjoyment of historic Great Lakes shipwrecks by divers and non divers.

1134 Goodwood Court Holland, Michigan 49424

Each year GLSRF hosts an annual conference open to the public, featuring programs about the discovery and documentation of Great Lakes shipwrecks. Profits from the conference are in turn granted to other organizations which further both their own missions and the mission of GLSRF. Kimm Stabelfeldt, co-founder of GLSRF will be on hand at MSRA’s annual program on May 3rd to present the grant. Come to the event and share the joy! Page 6

MSRA Newsletter 11  

MSRA Newsletter 11

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