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Discovery of the Sunken Indiana

In the summer of 1972, John R. Steele of Waukegan, IL, located the wreck of the Indiana. Consultation with Bowling Green State University and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers led to discussions with the Smithsonian Institution. In 1978, the site was declared eligible for the National Register of Historic Places on account of the Indiana's early and unique propulsion machinery. Accordingly, the Smithsonian agreed to recover select elements of Indiana's machinery for study, preservation, and display at NMAH. In 1980, the engine, boiler, propeller, and steering quadrant were recovered and transported to the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.

The condition of the ship is excellent, due in part to the preservative qualities of the fresh water environment, the water depth and temperature (about 40 degrees F), and presumably to the slow speed at which she settled to the bottom. From her disposition, Indiana appeared to have gone down virtually upright. The bow landed on the lakebed first, splitting open and spilling ore forward into the sand. The stern then settled, breaking off the propeller and unshipping the rudder assembly. The propeller was found lying flat beside the sternpost; one of its blades is missing and may be lodged beneath the sternpost.

 

Related Images

The wreck of <i>Indiana</i> lies in 120 feet of 34-degree water at the bottom of Lake Superior, whose depth and temperature helped preserve the artifacts.
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The wreck of Indiana lies in 120 feet of 34-degree water at the bottom of Lake Superior, whose depth and temperature helped preserve the artifacts.
Map of Lake Superior showing the site of the <i>Indiana</i> shipwreck
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Map of Lake Superior showing the site of the Indiana shipwreck
This drawing of <i>Indiana's</i> machinery demonstrates how all of the pieces fit and work together
Enlarge
This drawing of Indiana's machinery demonstrates how all of the pieces fit and work together


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