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Treasures beneath the waves: Uncovering the Lakeshore's rich history of shipwrecks

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Posted at 4:44 PM, Jun 20, 2024

MANITOWOC (NBC 26) — The Wisconsin Maritime Museum, known for its history, the museum's newest feature exhibit brings our community even closer to a special national park we have here… and it’s underwater!

  • The Wisconsin Maritime Museum has opened a new exhibit dedicated toward the Shipwreck Coast.
  • Known as the Wisconsin Shipwreck Coast National Marine Sanctuary it contains 1,000 sqaure miles of water.
  • Interim director, Kevin Cullen, believes that the partnership will bring more eyes to the treasures.

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

Dedicated to the Lakeshore's underwater park, the Shipwreck Coast Gallery is curated by interim director Kevin Cullen.

"This park actually preserves and protects almost 100 shipwrecks out there in about 1,000 square miles of water,” said Cullen.

The park, known officially as the Wisconsin Shipwreck Coast National Marine Sanctuary, stretches from just north of Two Rivers down to Port Washington.

Cullen says there were many shipwrecks in this area in the 19th century. This is because Two Rivers is the closest shore to many Michigan ports and the waters here are very shallow.

"Today with modern technology, side scan sonar,” Cullen explains. “I was just out on an expedition, and we found a new shipwreck on Lake Michigan."

The sanctuary's research coordinator Caitlin Zant told me the coast symbolizes much more than just a few artifacts.

"It really helps tell the story of these communities and their past,” Zant says. “These four communities along the coastline have been major shipping ports for hundreds of years."

Now, both Cullen and Zant say a partnership with the museum will only mean more eyes on the spectacle.

"The fact that it is such a such a statewide museum, even a nationwide museum,” said Zant. “Drawing people in from all over, it can really tell this story in a very accessible and easy way."

"We can tie our port town to the other communities around the Great Lakes,” Cullen added. “And realize that we're also connected to a global maritime community as well."

The gallery is now a permanent exhibit at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum.