Sketch of the three-masted schooner Riverside.

Sketch of the three-masted schooner Riverside.
View Full Sketch (Sketch by Kevin Magee and Cindy LaRosa).

The Cleveland Underwater Explorers, Inc. (CLUE) completed another very successful field season in 2008, discovering and documenting new shipwrecks in Lake Erie and performing various public outreach activities and presentations.

Two newly discovered shipwrecks were announced at a press conference held at the Great Lakes Historical Society (GLHS) in Vermilion, Ohio, on October 30, 2008. The three-masted schooner Riverside was located in 75 feet (23 meters) of water 25 miles (40 km) north of Cleveland. This schooner sank during the great storm of October 14-15, 1893, which was the remnant of a tropical hurricane that sank or stranded many ships on Lake Erie. The Riverside and its crew of seven was lost while carrying a load of limestone between Kelley's Island, Ohio, and Tonawanda, New York. The wreck is remarkably well-preserved with a good portion of the rigging and deck hardware present. A pre-disturbance survey was performed on the wreck, the entire site was documented with video and photos, and a preliminary site plan was created.

Starboard foremast deadeyes on the wreck of the Riverside.

Starboard foremast deadeyes on the wreck of the Riverside (Photo by David VanZandt).

The second wreck announced has been labeled the "Buried Schooner" since its identity is still in question. It was discovered in 70 feet (21 meters) of water 20-25 miles (32-40 km) north of Cleveland. The wreck is covered in silt with only the port railing, bowsprit, and windlass exposed above the lake bottom and appears to be a mid-19th-century schooner. An initial investigation of the site was performed, and a very preliminary site plan produced.

During June and July of 2008, Tom Kowalczk of CLUE assisted Texas A&M student Brad Kruger and GLHS archaeologist Carrie Sowden with a pre-disturbance archaeological survey of the Anthony Wayne site. This 1850 sidewheel steamboat wreck was discovered by CLUE in 2006. Later in the year Brad was the featured speaker at the Association for Great Lakes Maritime History (AGLMH) annual meeting in Muskegon, Michigan, where he discussed the survey work performed on the Anthony Wayne this season.

Sidescan sonar image of the Riverside.

Top: Sidescan sonar image of the “Buried Schooner”. Bottom: Sketch of the “Buried Schooner”. (Sidescan by David VanZandt. Sketch by Kevin Magee.)

Tom Kowalczk was also instrumental in assisting the GLHS in applying for and obtaining a grant from the National Park Service's American Battlefield Protection Program to survey the Battle of Lake Erie and Vessel Anchorage sites. The project will attempt to locate and perform a remote sensing survey of the original battle site and anchorage of Commodore Perry's War of 1812 engagement with the British fleet near Put-in-Bay Island, Ohio. CLUE will provide the survey vessel, remote sensing equipment, and survey expertise during the summer of 2009.

David VanZandt was accepted as a member of the Ohio Archaeological Council (OAC) and was also accepted as a fellow of The Explorers Club, George Rogers Clark Chapter. Additionally, Tom Kowalczk was elected to serve on the Board of Directors of the AGLMH.

CLUE published a couple of articles on the barkentine Cortland, which was discovered by CLUE in 2005. A paper about its discovery and identification was presented by David VanZandt at the Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA) conference in Toronto, Ontario, on January 11, 2009. Jim Paskert also published an article on the ship's owner and his history in the Fall, 2008, issue of the GLHS journal Inland Seas.

CLUE continued to give presentations as part of various public outreach activities. Dave made presentations to The Explores Club and OAC on the Anthony Wayne. Jim gave five talks at various Cuyahoga County Public Library branches to support "Shipwrecks Camp 2008: Robotics in Exploration", a children's summer camp dedicated to the study of shipwrecks and presented by the Cuyahoga County Public Library, the Center for Science and Mathematics Education at Case Western Reserve University, and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources-Cleveland Lakefront State Park. Jim, Dave, and Tom gave two seminars at the Maritime Archaeological Survey Team (MAST) annual nautical archaeology workshops in April, 2008. Jim and Tom gave a seminar about archival research, and Dave gave a seminar on sidescan sonar technology. CLUE supported a booth at the Ohio History Center in Columbus, Ohio, in October in support of Ohio Archaeology Month, where Tom also gave a talk about the Anthony Wayne. Finally, CLUE provided financial sponsorship for the Bay Area Divers (BAD) 25th anniversary Shipwrecks & Scuba banquet in Sandusky, Ohio, on November 22, 2008. This local scuba club has been very active in the past in sponsoring shipwreck preservation and research.

Lastly, the CLUE web site received a major overhaul to make it more visually pleasing and to facilitate the ease of adding more information in a timely fashion. CLUE continues to research, discover, and document the underwater cultural heritage of Lake Erie and the other Great Lakes. For additional information please visit their newly updated website at:

View other CLUE posts on the MUA:
The 2012 Season
The 2011 Season
The 2010 Season
The 2009 Season
The 2007 Season
Past Projects
An Introduction

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