Lake Ontario Shipwreck Speakers Scheduled

As the leadoff hitters for the speakers series that accompanies the new “Shipwrecks of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail” exhibit at the Seaway Trail Discovery Center in Sackets Harbor, NY, underwater explorers Jim Kennard and Dan Scoville will talk about the challenges of searching for shipwrecks in Lake Ontario. Their Thursday, May 17 presentation, “Discovery of an Early 19th Century Lake Ontario Schooner,” starts at 6:30 pm.Kennard and Scoville are certified divers and electrical engineers who together have discovered shipwrecks in Lake Ontario since 2002. They have developed underwater detection equipment and search techniques used to discover everything from the oldest wooden straight deck bulk freighter operating on the Great Lakes in 1919 to a Coast Guard cable boat that sank in 1977.Kennard built the side scan sonar system that he has used to locate more than 200 shipwrecks in the past thirty years. Scoville led the development of the underwater remote-operated vehicle (ROV) used to capture images of Lake Ontario’s deep water shipwrecks. The pair believe their latest discovery is the schooner Milan, the oldest commercial vessel found underwater off the Lake Ontario’s southern shore. The Milan, a schooner built in 1845, was carrying 1000 barrels of Onondaga salt from Oswego to Cleveland when it sank in 1849. A crew of nine and their Newfoundland dog were rescued.“Scuba diving in our freshwaters and the opportunity to discover the fascinating collection of shipwrecks found in the St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario, Niagara River and Lake Erie has become popular travel themes for divers and non-divers who enjoy maritime history,” says Teresa Mitchell, President and CEO of Seaway Trail, Inc. “We are pleased to present a series of notable speakers who will share their excitement and knowledge about the underwater resources of the region as part of the new Seaway Trail Shipwrecks exhibit and the new Dive the Seaway Trail project.”The Great Lakes Seaway Trail Shipwrecks noted speakers series will continue through September 20 with presentations by divers, a National Geographic photographer, historians, authors, and a ship’s captain.The new Great Lakes Seaway Trail Shipwrecks exhibit with an interactive underwater-simulated learning program courtesy of Pennsylvania Sea Grant, a series of interpretive panels, underwater photography displays, and a collection of reclaimed ship’s anchors on loan from French Creek Marina of Clayton, NY, can be seen daily from 10 am to 5 pm from May 17 through September 20. The Seaway Trail Discovery Center, operated by Seaway Trail, Inc. and the Seaway Trail Foundation at the corner of Ray and West in Main streets in Sackets Harbor, is in the former Union Hotel built in 1817-1818 and owned by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.In partnership with New York Sea Grant, Seaway Trail, Inc. has developed a Dive the Seaway Trail project that has begun installing a new series of maritime heritage theme outdoor interpretive panels along the 518-mile byway. The first panel, featuring the shipwrecks of the Eastern Basin of Lake Erie, can be seen in Dunkirk, NY. These maritime history theme panels are part of a Seaway Trailwide multi-theme signage system.The Seaway Trail Foundation, New York and Pennsylvania Sea Grants; TGI Fridays, Watertown; Day’s Inn-Denny’s, Watertown; French Creek Marina, Clayton; Key Bank; and the Social Cultural Committee and Hospitality & Tourism Student Organization of Jefferson Community College, Watertown, are the sponsors of the Shipwrecks of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail exhibit. For more information, go to www.seawaytrail.com or call 315-646-1000.

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