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 Great Lakes Shipwreck Preservation Society

Dedicated to Preserving our Shipwrecks and Maritime History
"From Prevention to Preservation"

HomeGrand Marais Harbor Survey Project 2012

Grand Marais Harbor Survey Project

August 18 - 19, 2012




Liberty Anchor Display at Museum in Grand Marais

photo by Steve Daniel




Divers Jeff Lee and Steve Daniel Preparing for Dive





Divers Jeff Lee and Steve Daniel Marking Knees of the Elgin Shipwreck




Steve Daniel and Dale Koziol Studying Results of the Harbor Survey






The City of Grand Marais may consider a future expansion of their marina. This potential event may risk covering or damaging historic shipwreck artifacts that are known to be on the bottom of the harbor. The schooner 'Elgin' sank in a 1906 storm near the breakwater that was built to form the current marina. The wooden planked bottom of the ship was noted on a Corps of Engineers chart of the harbor in the 1930's. Iron knees and a metal hatch combing have been noted by divers in the harbor near the picnic area. An anchor was pulled out by divers in the 1970's and may be seen outside the entrance to the North House Folk School.

The steamer 'Liberty,' burned at the dock on the east side of the harbor in 1919 and was pushed away to save the wooden fishing buildings near the dock. It dropped metal parts and its rudder (off shore from the picnic shelter) and sank in the southwest corner of the harbor. A winch and capstan have been found by divers int he past. A coal scupper cover was also found by the trip leader in the middle of the harbor. A large deck clamp and brass pipe fittings are located on the lake side of the breakwater, outside the harbor. The boat will be anchored to survey this area.

Additional information about these shipwrecks may be found in pages 152 - 158 in the book, 'Shipwrecks Along Lake Superior's North Shore,' by Stephen B, Daniel.

Project leader Steve Daniel will present an overview of the Harbor Documentation project at 4:00 PM on Friday, August 17th at the Cook County Historical Society building on the northeast side of town. Steve will cover the shipwrecks in the harbor and previous findings the 2011 and earlier dive teams found. Steve will also offer insight into other shipwrecks that have occurred in the grand Marais area.


The Grand Marais Harbor Shipwreck Artifact Survey will involve two approaches:

1. The main harbor area (12 - 25 feet deep)will utilize a 24 foot boat that will tow a diver at idle speed on an underwater device in a grid pattern. When the diver spots an artifact, they will release the tow line by pulling a line attached to a quick release clip. A fisherman's float will be released to the surface, marking the spot. A spotter in the back of the boat will signal to stop and circle back to the diver. An underwater camera will be handed to the diver, who is now on the surface, to return to the bottom to photograph the artifact. A GPS way point will be noted and a mark on a drawing of the harbor will identify the location of the artifact.

2. In a shallow area near the south west corner of the harbor (7 - 10 foot depth) a smaller boat will be used to follow a diver who is underwater, scanning the bottom. When they find something, they will release a fisherman's float marker and surface. The person in the small boat will hand them an underwater camera to photograph the artifact. A GPS way point will be noted and a mark on a drawing of the harbor will be made to record the location.

We will camp in the city campground on Friday night and Saturday night. Please bring your own gear and make your own campsite reservations. Please call 218-387-1712 or 800-998-0959 (Grand Marais Recreation Area).

We will have a quick breakfast Saturday morning and meet at the boat launch at 8:00 AM, weather permitting. We will break for lunch (please bring your own) around Noon and end the dive around 4 or 5:00 PM. Additional survey work will be done on Sunday, if needed and weather permitting.

Steve Daniel
Project Leader / photographer











 Steve Daniel's Boat - The "Adventurer" - Which will be used on this Project




To learn more about the,project, please click on the link button below. 





If you still have any additional questions about the project, please   contact Steve using any of his contact information below.


Hope to see you on the project


Steve Daniel






Grand Marais Harbor Survey Project


August 18 - 19, 2012


Closing Report


Upon arrival in Grand Marais Friday afternoon,Corey and I checked in at the Grand Marais Campground, then headed to the Cook County Historical Museum,  Carrie McHugh, museum director, greeted us and helped us set up for the Shipwrecks at Grand Marais, MN talk that I would give at 4:00 PM.  The room quickly filled with people from town, the campground, boaters and sailers and visiting vacationers.  The WTIP interview with Mark the previous Monday morning helped a bit!  The talk went well.  After a mention of the GLSPS and the project we would be doing this year in the harbor, the talk focused on the schooner Elgin and steamer Liberty.  The log rafting tug Bob Anderson, along with a local fish tug the Redwing, were included as well.


Our project team consisted of Corey Daniel and Tom Petereson who alternated as diver, tender and spotter, Ken Knutson who was the recorder, tracked diver down times and passed the UW camera to the diver, and Steve Daniel  who served as boat operator & project leader.  We met at the campsite for breakfast and a briefing.  After reconvening at the northeast boat launch parking lot (near the Coast Guard Station), we loaded gear on the boat and launched.  After our safety talk, we motored to a sailboat mooring to discuss the project procedure.  A Diver Down Flag & Float was to be towed behind the boat, in addition to the Diver Down Flag flown on top of the boat hardtop.


The diver tow device, graciously loaned to us by Bob Olson, was set up with a fish marker buoy attached with a Velcro(TM) strap and a bridle with float on the tow line.  The diver would pull the release line that opened a clamp holding a ring attached to the towline (also loaned by Bob Olson).  They would then remove the fish marker buoy and release it to the surface, while setting the weight on the found artifact.   The boat would circle back to retrieve the tow device, mark the GPS and hand the UW camera to the diver to photograph the artifact.


We were fortunate that the weather was overcast with a very mild wind in the harbor.  The schooner that usually took visitors for rides, remained at dock in the marina.  The float plane that offered scenic rides was also not flying, as wind was needed for lift to clear the harbor.  The folks in their sailboats knew about our project and greeted us as we passed their mooring with a diver in tow.  The day went well, with the bnoat speed at about 1.8 MPH, according to the GPS.  The typical depth of the harbor varied from 15 feet to 25 feet near the entrance to Lake Superior.


Seven of the eight artifacts found were recorded.  These included a broken old china plate, 4 charred pick axes, a wooden box, a couple of planks, a couple sheets of mangled metal plates and a round glass from a large porthole.  We pulled the diver out and secured the boat at a sailboat mooring as a a storm late in the day produced a lightening bolt on shore.  Once it passed, we did one last tow before pulling out the boat.  Overall, the tow device worked well and allowed the divers to cover many back and forth tows (east-west) between the moorings and across the main harbor area.


Sunday was bright, sunny and clear, with more wind.  We took the book out on Lake Superior and cruised to Rock Island and back to clear carbon out of the motor.  The boat was anchored outside the southwest rocky breakwater, about 50 yards off shore in about 40 feet of water.  Ken and Steve dove in to look for a deck clamp and brass fittings that had been observed on an earlier dive with Randy Beebe and Dave Cooper several years ago.  Unfortuantely, only rocks were found at the bottom of the large rock ledge underwater.  It was good that we were not diving in the middle of the harbor, as the schooner and float plane were busy most fo the day taking people on rides above and on the water.


It is believed that the storms on the Lake cause artifacts to either move around or be buried or uncovered in different years.  Many artifacts that were seen in previous years were not observed during the projects conducted this year and last year.  It may be worthwhile to come back and do boat dives for easier access to the SW corner in the harbor and outside the SW breakwater rock.  The crew would also like to check out the old America dock on the NE side of the harbor, by the rocky point that leads to the lighthouse.


A specials thanks to Corey, Tom and Ken for traveling all the way to Grand Marais and giving their generous time and help for this year's successful harbor survey.


Steve Daniel

GLSPS Boat Operator & Project Leader



2012 GMHS Team by Liberty Anchor: Corey Daniel, Steve Daniel, Ken Knutson & Tom Peterson