With the centennial anniversary of the tragic sinking of the Titanic (and of course, the re-release of the blockbuster movie), talk of shipwrecks is making the rounds among both history buffs and pop culture lovers. When I think of shipwrecks, I think of enormous vessels buried deep below the ocean’s surface. I definitely don’t think of Indiana, so I was certainly surprised to hear that more than a dozen ships met their end in the Hoosier state and now rest comfortably beneath our waters.
If you’ve ever experienced the beautiful shore along Lake Michigan at the Indiana Dunes State Park, you’ve probably noted that it seems as though you’re vacationing along the coasts. Here you’ll find the Muskegon shipwreck, a steam-powered passenger vessel that sank in 1910. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In a strange twist of fate, also near this area is the J.D. Marshall, a ship which sank in 1911 when it was sent to salvage some of the equipment from the Muskegon. The propeller from the J.D. Marshall is on display in the park.
Lake Maxinkuckee in Marshall County is home to approximately 15 wreck sites, mostly small- to medium-sized steam passenger boats. You can visit the lake and imagine the days when steamboats were a popular attraction in the town of Culver at Culver Park.
This pamphlet about Indiana’s shipwrecks is a great resource for anyone who wants to learn more about these fascinating sites. You can also learn more about the Indiana shoreline of Lake Michigan’s maritime history by visiting the Old Lighthouse Museum in Michigan City.
These wrecks are still being studied and explored. You can follow along with their progress and research at the Diving Indiana blog.
Photo courtesy of the Indiana DNR.