Heritage Minnesota is asking our friends and supporters to donate whatever monetary amount they can to allow MHM to
continue our Lake Minnetonka work. Our last grant proposal was not
funded and our field season is short. Please click on the GiveMN link
to the left to donate online or send a check to: Maritime Heritage
Minnesota, 1214 St. Paul Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55116-2707. Thanks!
A 501.c(3) Non-Profit Organization All donations are tax deductible
by Ann Merriman, PhD, & Christopher Olson, MA, in July 2005 in St Paul, MN Find
the Curriculum Vitae for MHM's foundersHERE E-mail MHMmhm@maritimeheritagemn.org Phone:
651.261.2265 or 651.202.8811
1214 St. Paul Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55116-2707
MHM acknowledges grant support from the Mankato Area Foundation
and the George W. Neilson Foundation.
Two grants from these fine organizations made the
Minnesota Dugout Canoe Project 2 possible. Many Thanks! See MHM's Minnesota Dugout Canoe Project 2 Report Below!
MHM thanks the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe for a grant that allowed MHM to purchase a much-needed new laptop.
Many thanks to these great people!
Site Updated – 17 May 2015 MHM's researchers are Licensed Archaeologists through the Minnesota Office of the State Archaeologist. See our licenses here: 2015 Licenses See MHM's yearly reports to the Office of the State Archaeologist here: 2014201320122011201020092008
Heritage Minnesota thanks the People of the State of Minnesota for
supporting the Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Grants Program.
MHM has received several MHCH Grants, part of the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund
of the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment.
Heritage Minnesota Projects
Hennepin & Carver Counties
Heritage Minnesota has completed the Lake Minnetonka Nautical
Archaeology 1, 2, and 3 Projects using data
accumulated during two Phase 1 side and
sonar surveys of the lake in 2011 and 2012. Before MHM's work began, 6
Lake Minnetonka wrecks were known, with one of them recognized as an
archaeological site by the Office of the State Archaeologist. MHM archaeologists and an ethical group of volunteer SCUBA
on 83 anomalies between October 2012 and July 2014,
confirming the natures of 30 new wrecks on the bottom of Lake
Minnetonka (although one of the wrecks is a Woodland Culture Dugout
Canoe taken from the lake in 1934 - see the Minnesota Dugout Canoe
Project below). One of these wrecks is the famed Saucy Kate.
Of the known 36 wrecks on the bottom of Lake Minnetonka, 23 of them are
designated as nautical
archaeological sites by the Office of the State Archaeologist because
of MHM's projects. MHM has also
identified other submerged cultural resources in the lake as well,
including a steamboat pier, a group of marine launch boilers, a pontoon
1936 Plymouth Sedan, a Ford Model T Doodlebug (a car converted inot a
tractor), a 1974 Chevrolet Caprice Classic Coupe, and a 1955 Mercury
Four Door Sedan.
To learn more about our Lake Minnetonka projects, click on the links below to access MHM's reports.
MHM recorded this sonar image of the St. Albans Bay
Wreck (21-HE-400) and Anomaly 69 n September 2011. Anomaly 69 is the
Lund Fishing Boat Wreck that was reported stolen in July 1977.
MHM dove on the Wayzata Bay
Wreck (21-HE-401) in May 2013. This dive determined the wreck is a rare model barge that sank on September 29, 1879.
MHM dove on the Saucy Kate Wreck
(21-HE-420) in September 2013. Data collected during this dive allowed
MHM to determine her identity through historical documentation. The
site is very dark because the wreck lies in a gully and light doesn't
reach the site easily. She sank in September 1899.
Access and Download MHM's Lake Minnetonka Reports
MHM's Lake Minnetonka Projects: In the Media
Lake Minnetonka Nautical Archaeology 1 Project
Lake Minnetonka Survey 1 and 2 Projects
White Bear Lake
Ramsey & Washington Counties
Heritage Minnesota conducted a side and down
imaging sonar survey of White Bear Lake in August 2012. MHM
identified dozens of anomalies on the lake bottom and in August and
September 2014, investigated 26 of them. MHM identified 4 wrecks:
Judge's Boat Wreck (21-WA-113), Steel Boat Wreck 1 (21-WA-114), Steel
Boat Wreck 2 (21-WA-115), and the Aluminum Square Stern Canoe (Anomaly
12). Four submerged cultural resources were also idenfied: a Pontoon
(Anomaly 22), Mast and Sail (Anomaly 28), a Boat Lift (Anomaly 46), and
an Ice Fishing House (Anomaly 14). MHM will continue
investigating anomalies in White Bear Lake in the future as funds
become available. Click the links below for more.
To learn more about our White Bear Lake projects, click on the links below to access MHM's reports.
A sonar image of the Judge's Boat Wreck (21-WA-113).
The Judge's Boat Wreck (21-WA-113) as she looked during her working
life (courtesy James Warner through the White Bear Area Historical
Heritage Minnesota has completed the Minnesota Dugout Canoe Project and the Minnesota Dugout Canoe 2 Project.
MHM has located 10 dugout canoes in Minnesota museums and historical
societies, receiving permission from these institutions to document the
artifacts and take a small wood sample for radiocarbon testing using
Accelerated Mass Spectrometry. The dugout canoes dated from AD
1025-Mid-1950s, spanning nearly 1,000 years of Minnesota maritime
history. MHM was able to establish where the exact locations where two
of the dugout canoes were found and they have been recognized as
archaeological sites by the Office of the State Archaeologist.
This wood sample was taken from the Minnesota River Dugout Canoe for 14C dating using Accelerated Mass Spectrometry and dates to
AD 1626-1679. To learn more about our Dugout Canoe projects, click on the links below to access MHM's reports.
Lake Minnetonka North Arm Dugout Canoe (21-HE-438) housed at the
Western Hennepin County Pioneers Association. This artifact dates to AD
1025-1165 and was constructed and used by people of the Woodland
The Chippewa River Dugout Canoe dates to AD 1436-1522 and was
constructed and used by the people of the Plains Village Tradition. It is held by the Chippewa County Historical Society.
MHM's Minnesota Dugout Canoe Projects: In the Media
Headwaters Mississippi River
Maritime Heritage Minnesota has been documenting wrecks in the Headwaters Mississippi River in Aitkin since 2008:Andy Gibson (21-AK-109), Swan (21-AK-84), and since 2012 the Red Mill Wreck (21-AK-122) after her discovery by MHM. The Andy Gibson, Swan, and the Red Mill Wreck are significant to Minnesota's - and America's - maritime history since
they are located hundreds of miles above Minneapolis, the point that
has been commonly accepted as the 'head of navigation' of the 'Upper
Mississippi' River. The true Head of Navigation is the Headwaters
Mississippi River region, where 12 steamboats plied the river between
Aitkin, Sandy Lake, and Grand Rapids from 1870-1921. In 2012 and 2013, MHM began documetning the Red Mill Wreck and between
2008 and 2012, Maritime Heritage Minnesota has documented about 50% of
the Andy GibsonWreck Site and MHM successfully nominated her to the National Register of Historic Places.
In 2010 MHM conducted a Phase 1 side and down imaging sonar survey of
the Mississippi River in Aitkin County, a distance of 104 miles. Beyond the known sites of Andy Gibson and Swan,
MHM identified three maritime sites near Jacobson (Mississippi Landing
Railroad Spur & Bridge Remians [21-AK-115], Mississippi Landing
Logging Pier, [21-AK-116]) and at the confluence of the Sandy and
Mississippi Rivers (Sandy River Steamboat Crib, 21-AK-117). MHM
conducted the Aitkin County Shipwrecks Project in September and October
2012 with funds
provided by a Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Grant, and
located two additional maritime sites in Aitkin (Burton &
Anderson/Hodgeden & McDonald Mill and Landing, 21-AK-124) and south
Palisade (Tripp Landing, 21-AK-123). The Aitkin County Shipwrecks
Project page also includes information on the Andy Gibson wreck site.
To learn more about our Headwaters Mississippi River projects, click on the links below to access MHM's reports.
Gibson moored at a
landing on the Headwaters Mississippi River (Itasca County Historical
The steamer Fawn moored near a wanigan on the
Headwaters Mississippi River, with Andy
Gibson steaming up in the background (Minnesota Historical
Society, digitized by MHM).
An early morning on the Headwaters Mississippi River near the Red Mill Wreck.
Access and Download MHM's Headwaters Mississippi River Reports
MHM's Headwaters Mississippi River Projects: In the Media
National Register of Historic Places Property: Andy Gibson Wreck Documentation and Preservation
Tree Mitigation Project
Starboard Gunwale & Deck Documentation
Dry Nautical Excavation
& Initial Documentation
USS Essex Wreck
Lake Superior, Duluth, St. Louis County
Heritage Minnesota conducts yearly condition assessments of
North America's premier clipper ship builder Donald McKay's USS Essex (21-SL-1030). The Essex
wreck is the only example of McKay's craftsmanship confirmed to exist
and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The wreck is
nationally significant in terms of Naval Architecture and Naval
History. Unfortunately, the site is in danger from ice damage, sand
erosion, and humans - looting and vandalism - and she has suffered from
all of these harmful activities over the decades. Using three grants
awarded through the Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Grants Program,
MHM has produced a plan to preserve the USS Essex, digitized the ship's
known 62 log books, and begun the transcription and editing of the
books for free internet access.
To learn more about our work on the USS Essex and to access the Log Books currently available for downloading, click on the links below.
Donald McKay's last ship, the
sloop-of-war USS Essex, under sail (Naval Historical
Center, digitized by MHM).
Access and Download MHM's USS Essex Reports and Log Books
Lake Waconia Carver County
Heritage Minnesota conducted side and down
imaging sonar survey of Lake Waconia in August 2012. MHM identified 46 anomalies that require
further research. In September 2013 MHM investigated 10 anomalies in
Lake Waconia and none of them were submerged cultural resources. MHM
will re-prioritize the anomalies recorded by sonar in an attempt to
identify wrecks and other resources in the lake.
To learn more about our Lake Waconia projects, click on the links below to access MHM's reports.
gasoline launch Emile and one of the sail boats from the Lake View
Hotel’s fleet. Note Emile’s torpedo stern, indicating she was designed
and built by the Moore Boat Works of Wayzata (GV3.61r76, Minnesota
Historical Society, digitized by MHM).
Access & Download MHM's Lake Waconia Reports
MHM's Lake Waconia Projects: In the Media
Minnesota River Hennepin, Dakota, Scott, Carver, Sibley & Le Sueur Counties
Maritime Heritage Minnesota
has conducted a side and down imaging sonar
survey of the Minnesota River from its confluence with the Mississippi
River to past Belle Plaine, with terrestrial surveys taking place in
Shakopee, Chaska, near Jordan, Blakely, and Henderson. Several maritime
sites were recorded and researched, with 1 maritime archaeological
site designated - the Belle Plain Levee and Bridge Remains (21-SC-098, 21-SB-027). MHM
recorded 2 anomalies that may be watercraft wrecks that require futher
To learn more about our Minnesota River project, click on the links below to access MHM's reports.
The Chaska Ferry on the Minnesota River in
(Minnesota Historical Society, digitized by MHM).
Access and Download MHM's Minnesota River Survey Report
MHM's Minnesota River Survey: In the Media
MHM at Archaeology Fairs
year MHM participates
in Minnesota Archaeology Week activities at Fort Snelling State Park.
We set up a large static exhibit, answer questions from the public, and
set up the 'MHM Theater'. The Archaeology Fair is staged from the
Thomas C. Savage Center and
every year more people visit the fair.
Every year Maritime
Heritage Minnesota travels to Mille Lacs Kathio State Park for
Archaeology Day activities.We set up a large static exhibit, answer questions from the public, and set up the 'MHM Theater'.
Every two years MHM reports on our activities at the Council for Minnesota Archaeology Conference.
MHM presented a talk at the Gales
of November Conference in Duluth in 2011 on our on-going USS Essex assessments and the log book digitization, editing, and transcription
project. We also brought our static exhibit to further inform
conference goers about our other work.
Other Publications by MHM Archaeologists
MHM in East Carolina
University's Stem to Stern
Maritime Heritage Minnesota
Titles at Amazon Kindle
Title Available at
A Statement From MHM: Shipwrecks
are not commodities. Every artifact, be
it a shipwreck, solitary anchor, or bottle tells a story. Removing or
otherwise disturbing artifacts can obliterate that story. Nautical
archaeological sites – wrecks – and maritime archaeological sites –
piers and other objects – are finite and significant submerged cultural
resources – otherwise known as underwater archaeological sites.
Nautical, maritime, underwater, maritime terrestrial – MHM deals with
all of these types of sites throughout the State of Minnesota. MHM's
mission is to document, conserve, preserve, and when necessary,
excavate these finite cultural resources where the welfare of the
artifact is paramount. MHM is concerned with protecting our underwater
and maritime sites – our shared Maritime History – for their own
benefit in order for all Minnesotans to gain the knowledge that can be
obtained through their study. MHM's study of wrecks does not include
the removal of artifacts or damaging the sites in any way. MHM does not
raise wrecks or 'hunt' for 'treasure'. Submerged archaeological sites
in Minnesota are subject to the same State statutes as terrestrial
sites: the Minnesota Field Archaeology Act (1963), Minnesota Historic
Sites Act (1965), the Minnesota Historic District Act (1971), and the
Minnesota Private Cemeteries Act (1976) if human remains are associated
with a submerged site. Further, the case of State v. Bollenbach (1954)
and the Federal Abandoned Shipwrecks Act of 1987 provide additional
jurisdictional considerations when determining State oversight and
"ownership" of resources defined by law as archaeological sites.
Therefore, just like terrestrial archaeologists working for the State
or with contract firms, underwater archaeologists are have
the necessary education, appropriate credentials, and hold valid
licenses from the Office of the State Archaeologist.