$12 – $40

Wreck-A-Palooza 2017 - Session 2

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National Museum of the Great Lakes

1701 Front Street

Toledo, OH 43605

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Wreck-a-palooza is a two day event covering shipwreck discoveries across the Great Lakes. Come hear more about exciting discoveries that are found in the Great Lakes every year! Each day will have two speakers and a box lunch. These symposiums will take place on Saturdays, June 3 and October 7, 2017. You have the option to register for one presentation, one day, or the entire symposium (4 talks over the 2 days)

The National Museum of the Great Lakes is dedicated to shipwreck discovery, archaeology and preservation. With the formation of the Peachman Great Lakes Shipwreck Research Program in 2001, we solidified our commitment to our submerged cultural resources.

Wreck-A-Palooza is your chance to learn more about ongoing research happening in the depths of our Great Lakes. Join us for one presentation, one day, or the full symposium. We will see you in the deep!

Session 2: October 7, 2017

Davidson's Goliaths - Evolution of Design of the Great Lakes' Longest Wooden Ships

Caitlin Zant, Archaeologist - Wisconsin Historical Society - 11:00 am

James Davidson was one of the most prolific shipbuilder’s on the Great Lakes and is known for building the world’s largest wooden vessels long into an era when many of his contemporaries were building with steel. At a time when iron and steel were becoming the accepted building materials in shipyards across the world, Davidson continued making innovations in technology that pushed the accepted size limits of wooden vessels to a proportion never thought possible. Today, Wisconsin is a significant repository of Davidson’s record-breaking vessels in the form of shipwreck sites. Seven of Davidson’s vessels have been lost or abandoned in Wisconsin waters and six of those have been located, recorded, and are now represented in the archaeological record. The shipwrecks Australasia, Adriatic, Frank O'Connor, City of Glasgow, Appomattox and Pretoria remain remarkable testaments to Davidson’s shipbuilding prowess and innovative technological design, preserved beneath the Wisconsin’s cold, clear waters.

The Wreck of the Railroad Car Ferry Milwaukee

Tamara Thomsen, Underwater Archaeologist - Wisconsin Historical Society - 1:00 pm

At 3PM on 22 October 1929, two days before Black Thursday set off the U.S. stock market crash and the Great Depression, the railroad car ferry Milwaukee pulled away from the Grand Trunk slip in Milwaukee, lowered her sea gate, and set out on her afternoon run across Lake Michigan with her hold full of freight cars. Although a tremendous storm was raging on the Lake, and other vessels had cancelled their trips because of the gale, her Master, Capt. Robert “Bad Weather” McKay kept to the railroad’s schedule. The ship never made Grand Haven, Michigan. Days later, bodies of some of her crewmen and lifeboats were picked from the water, and a note in a message case was found on a Michigan beach.

The car ferry Milwaukee rests in 125 feet of water. She has long been a favorite dive site in the Milwaukee area and featured in television shows and documentaries. Wisconsin Historical Society completed the first comprehensive archaeological survey of the Milwaukee, which resulted in the nomination of the shipwreck to the National Register of Historic Places. Join Wisconsin Historical Society’s Maritime Archaeologist, Tamara Thomsen for an in depth look at the car ferry Milwaukee’s history. Discover what others have overlooked and misreported pertaining to her loss, and learn what really happened in the final hours of this great ship.


Wreck-A-Palooza Pricing
Single Presentation: Members – $12, Non-Members – $15
Single Session (2 presentations and 1 lunch): Members – $35, Non-Members – $40
Full Symposium (4 presentations and 2 lunches) (June 3 and October 7): Members – $65, Non-Members – $75

Wreck-A-Palooza is proudly sponsored by:


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National Museum of the Great Lakes

1701 Front Street

Toledo, OH 43605

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