Next Meeting: Wednesday, February 28th

The UASC meets the last Wednesday of each month at the Chicago Maritime Museum located at 1200 West 35th Street, Suite OE5010, Chicago, IL 60609. Free event, ALL ARE WELCOME. Refreshments 6:30, Business 7:00, Speaker 8:00.


Underwater Archaeological Society of Chicago



March 2015 Minutes PDF Print E-mail

Underwater Archeological Society of Chicago

Meeting Minutes 25 March 2015


  • Approximately thirty members and guests met at seven pm at the Chicago Maritime Museum located in the Bridgeport Arts Center, 35th and Racine, Chicago

Officer's Report

  • Secretary Carol Sommers welcomed the group and summarized last month's minutes which were available in printed form for members.
  • The other officers were unable to attend.

Old Business and Past Events

  • At Our World Underwater, our new logo and flag were on display and quite a few attendees signed up for e-mail information. John Bell and John Messener presented.
  • At both the Ghost Ships Festival and OWU many attendees gave e-mails to receive more UASC information.
  • At the ICSSD Underwater Competition Diveheart won and Atlantis came in second. UASC was a no-show, but one member then quipped "But at least we didn't lose!". Bob Gadbois screened entertaining videos from the event before the business meeting.

New Business and Upcoming Events

  • ICSSD- The Jim Haig Memorial Dive will be on July 26.
  • The Chicago Maritime Festival will take place on April 18th at the Old Town School of Folk Music.; Booth volunteers are needed and six members signed up to help out. UASC will provide the needed projector.
  • The Chicago Maritime Museum will have a kick-off party Friday, April 17. Bring goodies. Also, the size of the musem will be doubled thanks to $200,000 in donations. There will be a conservation laboratory and gift shop added and the permanent exhibits will be done by November. Two or three people are needed to help move canoes.  Meetings are always the third Friday of the month at 7 pm with the May meeting on the 15th.
  • The new Wreck Checker is printed and was available at OWU, but unfortunately copies are not available today.
  • Ken Vrana did not receive the contract for the lake survey project so we will not be involved.
  • A Nautical Archeological Society certification course is coming up.
  • In late spring or early summer, a diving area will be opened up in Lake Michigan on the east side of Northerly Island according to Chuck Miller. A lagoon and wetland area will be nearby. The eventual plan is for a ring of islands.

Ideas for upcoming meetings

  • Chet suggested a mock underwater survey for members on dry land with John and Tony as leaders to learn or review techniques.
  • Paul Ehard could be invited to give a program on wreck discoveries.
  • Bob Gadbois has a thirty minute documentary on the mystery ship, the schooner the Alvin Clark, and how lack of preservation efforts caused it to be eventually demolished. The Smithsonian Museum said it was the most important wreck in the Great Lakes.
  • After discussion and leadership from Jim Jarecki, it was decided that at every monthly meeting, a member would give a short (five-ten minute) presentation about a wreck. Many members volunteered and the first programs are:
  1. Claire and Bob Gadbois-- SeaBird in May
  2. Dean Nolan--Moreland in June
  3. Chet Childs--planes
  4. John Bell --TBA
  5. Carol Sommers--viking ship burials and preserved ships in Scandinavia-- in the fall

Other business

  • The fact was brought up that new members would like to dive with UASC. Since the Thursday after work schedule was not popular, possibly there could be a fundraiser to help cut down the cost for a group of UASC members who would like to dive on weekends.

Featured speaker

The featured speaker is Tom Freeman who learned to dive in 1971 at the 63rd and Homan YMCA and a wonderful surprise is that Bud Brain came along. Both are long-time Great Lake divers who discovered well-known shipwrecks. UASC also has long-time divers including Claire Gadbois who learned to dive from Phil Stelnicki in 1971 and Ruth Loftus who dived the Material Service Barge in 1967 when it was intact.

While watching a 1993 video of Bob Gadbois' of the Iowa, Tom explained how when the wreck from 1915 was found, there was only eight feet of visibility and an eight foot pile of junk in the center which had silverware, a rifle and roller skates. He showed us the clip-on roller skates which anyone over sixty can well remember and said it was a lot of fun digging through the junk made in Chicago. Everything is now gone from the eight-foot pile. The Iowa was crushed in the ice and is located between Chicago's two water cribs four miles off shore. Everyone survived and the fifteen passengers walked to shore.

Tom also found the first airplane in Lake Michigan which went to Glenview Air Base after the person in charge of the Silversides submarine asked for it. It has since been sold to someone in Canada and is now flying again. Terry and Al from A & T recovery are still bringing up the planes from Lake Michigan for the Navy.

(As an aside, Carol Sommers stated that she has a 1912 Naval howitzer in her front yard since she lives in an 1878 Victorian house in Wicker Park in Chicago which was converted into an American Legion Hall for Pulaski Post #86 in the 1920's. UASC is welcome to have a party in the 800 square foot room and in the bar which was built into a corner of the basement during Prohibition.)

Another artifact was a deadeye from the David Dawe's shipwreck which was a five-masted schooner, but now only the front centerboard to the bow is projecting from the lakebed.

The wreck of the Louisville was located using a fish finder with only a 30-45 degree cone. Tom and Bud brought up a safe, but found only moldy papers inside. Bud still has the safe door. The small anchor from the Louisville is cemented into the front yard of the house at 1842-4 N. Lincoln avenue and Tom has the kedging anchor in his yard.

Bud Brain informed us that a wreck had just washed up on shore near Michigan City. (Field trip, anyone?) He added that in the past he used plastic bottles filled with air as lift bags, and for larger items, a plastic-lined 55-gallon drum.

Bud, who learned to dive in 1962, brought along his home-made scuba gear, all of which still works. He used it as lead diver on the Thomas Hume when he was 88 years old. He would dive using a 72 tank, no bc, no octopus, no gauges, and no drysuit in forty-two degree water and come back with air. He has used the same Sportsway regulator for fifty-one years. He demonstrated his light which he made in the late sixties from a six volt automotive spotlight and WW II nickle cadmium batteries, 1 1/2 volts each, which did not short out in fresh water. It was strapped onto one arm to keep both hands free. It was the original "Bud Light" (not my joke) and he used it to dive the Alvin Clark in Green Bay.

Then there was a photo-op session with our guests from the early days of Great Lakes diving.

The meeting was adjourned at 9 pm.

Minutes respectfully submitted by Carol Sommers

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