But www.ohioshipwrecks.org, a new Web site jointly funded by the Ohio Lake Erie Commission and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Office of Coastal Management, allows history buffs to explore the sunken ships that dot the lake’s floor.
“These wrecks are time capsules,” says David Kelch, an Ohio Sea Grant Extension Specialist and the Web site’s co-creator. “It is part of our maritime history and the heritage of Lake Erie.”
Lake Erie has claimed more than 1,700 ships over the years — the most of any Great Lake. The locations of 277 of them have been documented so far, and many of those are identified on the Web site’s interactive map, which also offers the history of each lost ship.
“Though a lot of people don’t actually get the chance to put on a scuba tank and go down and see that past first-hand,” says Kelch, “this gives them the opportunity to learn something about the wreck.”
The site even provides GPS coordinates for 28 of the ships and offers images and underwater videos of some wreck sites courtesy of divers who have visited Erie’s floor. Kelch says the multimedia portion of the site will continue to expand as the site evolves.
Dive in, and don’t worry about being unfamiliar with nautical lingo. The site offers a shipwreck glossary to help you get your sea legs.