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



May 2016 Meeting PDF Print E-mail

Underwater Archaeological Society Of Chicago


May 25, 2016

President Bob Rushman greeted about 21 members and guests.

Treasurer Karen Rushman reported that there is $11,231.78 in the treasury.

Secretary Carol Sommers said that the minutes are online and hard copies are available on the table.

NAS training with Dave Thompson will take place the weekend of August 6-7 since that is when the most members are available. At present, the cost is unknown and also whether there is a minimum number of attendees required. (We have seven.) The location will be here at the Chicago Maritime Museum. If there is an underwater component, the Haigh Quarry has a good area which can be used for training.

ICSSD - The Jim Haigh Memorial Dive will be July 17 and the President’s Night Dinner will be October 29 with the location to be announced later.

The Chicago Maritime Museum Grand Opening will take Saturday, June 4. The hours are 10 to 4 and the admission will be free. June 3 is the members’ night preview with a champagne toast. Jim recommended becoming a member tonight to be able to come and get a free champagne flute on the third.

Surveys: New leaders are needed for most of the projects. Tom Palmisano has offered his boat for dive survey on weekday afternoons/evenings. Tom can accommodate a maximum of three divers.

The Flora Hill is close to the shore so is good for weeknight surveys. Also, sailboat races take place there on weekends so there can be significant traffic. Mike Gagliardi has video that was shot straight down for the purpose of making mosaics and Bob will contact him for it because he has moved to Florida. A new leader is needed and the ship was last dived 2-3 years ago.

The Materials Service Barge site map is done, but since then the wreck has changed. A chunk of the stern has fallen off and large holes have opened up.

Johnathan Plotner has done a lot on the Silver Spray, Bob will contact Jonathan to discuss completing the project.

The Solon Johnson needs to have a 20-foot section sketched and measured. It is located near Zion Nuclear Plant and one trip should finish it. Sam Frank has an inflatable which he can use, but needs another dive boat to go with it, possibly Windy City Diving would work.

Don Dougherty is in charge of Val’s Wreck and we need to know what he has done. It is 7-8 miles out.

Bob Rushman is the leader for the Tacoma.

The Wells Burt needs to have changes documented. This actually needs to be done on all the survey wrecks. A new leader is needed for it and it is a good starter boat since there is a site map already. Jim Gentile’s boat is available on weeknights and Keith Pearson can get the Dive Rite In boat for $350, possibly less if it is a weekday. It carries 6 divers plus Keith as the captain and a deckhand.

Colin volunteered to be a leader and Bob Rushman said he would team up with him. Ruth Loftus will help by writing a format of how to do a survey. We will ask John Bell to outline what he did. It is uncertain as to his availability this summer. He also has a template for doing the report. Tom said he could use his boat during the week, working his schedule around the date it is needed. Keith mentioned the two boats could be used together, but several members said that weekdays were a problem to get that many divers together. Tony will also help on a survey. As soon as we know we are diving, an e-mail will be sent out so members can sign up and it was brought up that tentative dates should be set so people can plan.

Website – Colin is working at keeping it updated. At present, it takes two hours to send out an e-mail to 700 people on the announcements list. Bill Messner will provide the name of a company that will do it for $20 per month. With this service, no monitoring will be needed and e-mails can be sent out with items of interest. This could be a way to attract people to our website, especially if content is changed to keep them interested and there is a weekly item of interest. Jim brought up that it would take eight memberships per year to pay for this service and it was decided that it may be tried on a trial basis. Discussion about marketing UASC followed—new members are generally found only at OWU and Ghostships? One can buy a list of a demographic of young single divers who need a group to hook up with and go diving. We will give it a try and Bill will help coach people to market UASC. Colin will begin to update the UASC Facebook page on which he will put up postings. Anyone can “like” it. Keith brought up the fact that we need to ask dive shops if they want a UASC presentation.

Camp Douglas DePaul Archaeological Dig at 31st and Calumet Streets– Carol and Nick Sommers helped out May 23 and found some glass and a nail after sifting through buckets of dirt. They then re-sodded an area which had been filled in. The DePaul archaeology student who was there said that the funding had been cut for the adjunct professor who is in charge of the dig. Only one small portion of the barracks area was studied in this dig. Draper and Kramer owns a large part of the area where Camp Douglas was located and refuses to let any digs to be done. Mike Gregory from DePaul is our speaker next month and will talk about the project.

Member Presentation-Gerry Boldenow spoke about how Lake Michigan survey lines were determined for various states. Indiana wanted ten miles of shoreline in 1787, but didn’t get it until 1826. Michigan and Ohio fought the “Toledo War” with Ohio having a general John Bell (not our’s!), but no one was killed and Michigan got the Upper Peninsula and Toledo got the Toledo strip. Good instrumentation wasn’t available for the surveys. The Northwest Ordinance approved the lines for the eight states around the Great Lakes and slavery was only permitted south of the Ohio River. Wisconsin did not have the five thousand people necessary to make it a state, so it lost the Upper Peninsula to Michigan. Indiana and Michigan don’t have the funds to redefine the lines and need local surveyors to determine the important point of where Michigan, Indiana and Illinois meet. In 1945, the Army Corps of Engineers used a 1919 topographic map to indicate borders. Google Earth is not good as geographic coordinates for state lines. Illinois and Indiana fishing licenses are both good inside Calumet Harbor. Indiana is very restrictive, especially at cribs for water or steel plants. Intakes are especially dangerous and are even marked as obstructions on NOA site maps. The Illinois and Indiana border is one mile east of Rainbow Park which puts the Material Service Barge in Indiana. As a result, if a report is published on it, we need an Indiana archaeologist’s name on the title page. One can dive in Indiana State Parks whereas Illinois requires a form to be filled out. Shore diving isn’t permitted in Chicago. A place to shore dive in Indiana is at Route 20 & 49. There also is “Beer Can Beach” near the casino.

Miscellaneous Announcement: The fact was brought up that 2016 marks the 200th anniversary of Indiana’s first shipwreck which was the schooner Hercules when it was on its way to Fort Dearborn.

Speaker—There was a mix-up with dates and Taras Lyssenko will speak at a later date. Keith Pearson spoke about the “Olden Days of UASC” after announcing that the program “Heroes on Deck” would be televised on Channel 11 on May 26 at 9pm and May 29 at 6pm. Both Keith and Bud will be on the program.

The video made in the 1990’s on the Wells Burt which sunk in 1883 was shown. Bob Gadbois and Chet Childs won an award at the New York film festival. Tom added that he saw no zebra mussels on the wreck when he dove on it last year.

The next video was made by a group of divers who went to Manitou hoping to dive a wreck, but when they found that there was no wreck they decided to spend their time making a pirate movie. It was quite ridiculous, to the extent that no one would have their name put into the credits as the maker.

The last video was made and narrated by Bob Gadbois and was titled “Exploring Chicago Shipwrecks”. It included facts about famous shipwrecks and how UASC surveys them. Chicago was a vibrant port with 26,000 arrivals and clearings per year with most ships taking grain to the east of the country. Some notable wrecks were the Lady Elgin which sunk off the north shore and where 400 died. The debris field stretches for miles. The Eastland capsized in the Chicago River and 835 drowned. It later became a warship. In 2997 A&T found the UC97. When the Seabird burned in 1868 because of a porter throwing ashes overboard and which blew back onto the deck, 100 perished and it was considered the tenth worst disaster in the Great Lakes. It sunk off of Great Lakes Naval Station harbor. UASC surveys involve the skills of drafting, taking video and still photos, researching, piloting boats and knowing mechanics and all are divers. The David Dows was the first survey and the Wells Burt was found in 1987 by A&T, one hundred years after its sinking. It is 3 miles from shore and UASC helped preserve the wreck from souvenir hunters by chaining the deadeyes to it. The video explained how UASC shares its findings with the public, for example Chet Childs has monitored the growth of zebra mussels. It also has worked on joint ventures with other organizations. Claire Gadbois, Chet Childs and Keith Pearson among other UASC members of the time also helped with the video.

The meeting adjourned around 9:45.

Minutes respectfully submitted by Carol Sommers

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