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



November 2016 Minutes PDF Print E-mail

Underwater Archaeological Society Of Chicago 

Meeting Minutes

November 2016

President Bob Rushman greeted twenty members.

Treasurer Karen Rushman reported that we have $10,552 in our account.

Secretary Carol Sommers stated that the minutes are available on line and also on the table.

Elections: The new officers of UASC are President-Dean Nolan, Vice-President-Colin Bertling, Treasurer- John Bell, Secretary-Carol Sommers.

ICSSD – There was a good showing at the President’s Night Dinner and UASC won the Club of the Year Award. The plaque was displayed in the front of the hall.

On March 19, the Underwater Competition will take place and Tom volunteered to be our captain. See Illinois Scuba for more detail.

Website – Our announcement list has 710 names and it takes two hours to send messages to everyone. Dean mentioned that Chicago Scuba Meet-up uses The Meeting Site which costs $179.88 per year. One sets up an event and posts it and the site sends out the information to members. The downside is that everyone must go to the site and join. Comments were that it could be used to announce events to people who are not members, it may help to attract a younger audience, and it’s affordable for our group.

Events – This coming Friday, December 2, the Christmas Tree Ship will arrive at Navy Pier at 8 am. Our World Underwater will take place February 24-26.

There will be additional NAS courses by Dave Thompson and we will also be diving a wreck 501C3 status will be pursued for UASC.

Featured Speaker – Bob Nelson, the last harbormaster of Chicago, discussed and read passages from his book Dirty Water about the graft and corruption in the managing of the Chicago harbors. Bob’s four predecessors (87-93) were sent to prison and mayor Harold Washington hired Bob to clean the harbors up. He resisted continued attempts at corruption and bribery for his entire tenure as harbormaster. Nine of Bob’s fourteen inherited staff were indicted. The entire culture of bribery had to be changed. In the past, to get a slip, one had to buy a chain mooring line from the harbormaster for an exorbitant price or your boat would mysteriously break loose in the next storm and smash up. The reason was that if you didn’t pay the bribe, you were given a “soft” chain which broke easily.

During the presentation and ensuing Q & A period, some interesting comments and facts came up which follow. Monroe Harbor was built in the 1920’s and had a seaplane ramp. It had 1,000 boats with only a few tenders which is now improved since the Chicago Park District took it over. Now, for $100 a year, boaters owning slips have access to tender service. Police used to throw slot machines and dismantled guns into the lake by the crib. There used to be a wave tank under Soldiers’ Field where pier designs were tested. Bob later became the CEO of the Hammond Port Authority and said that the income from the Harrah's Casino replaced the influence of the former heavy industry in the area.

Bob was responsible for the David Dowes anchor being placed in the Maritime Museum. It was taken off the wreck by two Hammond firemen and put in the front yard of a Hammond home. Unfortunately, now that Chicago’s harbors are privatized, Bob feels that they have lost their character as being part of a neighborhood and because the minimum size of a boat for a slip is 35 feet, citizens with small boats can no longer moor them locally. A change for the better is that in the 1970’s, the lakeside parks were considered dangerous and all harbors had chain link fences around them. Now millions of Chicago residents enjoy the lakeside parks and Daniel Burnham’s plan for the lakefront is partly realized in that there is pedestrian access to the lake every half mile. In closing, Bob said that “Businesses can come and go, buildings rise and fall, but harbors remain.”

After the presentation, Bob autographed copies of his book which he had for sale and he sold out all that he had brought.

The next meeting will be on January 25.

Minutes respectfully submitted by Carol Sommers. 

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