Tag Archives: Great Lakes

All Hands: The Battle of Lake Erie Bicentennial


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Battle of Lake ErieAs the second summer of the War of 1812 was drawing to a close, the sea war with Britain that had enjoyed such notable success in its early months, had shifted from the open ocean to the Great Lakes.  There were two reasons for this. Stunning victories by USS Constitution over HMS Guerriere, the United States over the Macedonian and Constitution against Java had shocked the British.

The Admiralty’s response to the American frigate victories was to use overwhelming numbers to control the seas. Orders were issued forbidding any more single ship engagements, and the British established blockade squadrons off the coast all the way to New Orleans. The British blockade on America had tightened, with 100 ships on station off the coast.

And, while it was possible for an American ship to run the blockade, especially during foul weather, naval supplies were being diverted to a different theater of war – the Great Lakes. Continue reading

200 Years Ago: ‘Don’t Give Up The Ship’


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USS ChesapeakeIt’s a phrase most of us use, without knowing much more than it connotes an air of struggle.

A desperate struggle is exactly what was taking place when Captain James Lawrence of the USS Chesapeake made those words his final order – 200 years ago today.

The United States had been at war with Britain for nearly a year when Lawrence sailed his frigate out of Boston. Waiting for him outside the harbor was HMS Shannon, whose Captain was disobeying orders by preparing to engage an American ship one on one. Continue reading

Great Lakes Underwater Presents Historic Program


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On Saturday, September 8, the Great Lakes Seaway Trail and New York Sea Grant will present Great Lakes Underwater at the Clayton Opera House, Clayton, NY. The 12pm-5pm program, co-sponsored by the NOAA National Weather Service, features four distinct speakers focused on history, shipwrecks and innovative technology for boaters.
 

 The event will run 12pm-5pm at the Clayton Opera House, 405 Riverside Drive, Clayton, NY, with vendors, information exhibits and networking time. The September 8 program includes the following presentations:
 
· “Historic Weather Patterns Impact on Lake Ontario Shipwrecks” with National Weather Service Forecaster Robert Hamilton

· “Between Two Nations: The British on Carleton Island (Fort Haldimand) from the American Revolution to the War of 1812” with Douglas J. Pippin, Ph.D., historical archaeology professor at SUNY Oswego

· Underwater explorer Jim Kennard on his “Discovery of the HMS Ontario” using deepwater sonar scanning to find the 80-foot-long, 22-gun sloop-of-war that sunk in 1780 in Lake Ontario on her way to Fort Haldimand

· “The Great Lakes Seaway Trail Blueway Water Trail & Innovations in Technology for Boaters, Canoeists and Kayakers” with New York Sea Grant Coastal Recreation and Tourism Specialist Dave White. Learn how new and future tools and apps based on the Great Lakes Observing System will benefit water trail users.

This Great Lakes Underwater theme program makes the start of a new Great Lakes Seaway Trail Byway-Blueway Seminar Series. Pre-registration is requested by September 3. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors age 62 or older and retired military with ID, $5 for children under 14, and free Blue Star admission for active military with ID. Day of the event seating is $15 for any remaining seats. This is a Yellow Ribbon event. For more information and to register, visit www.seawaytrail.com/dive or call 315-646-1000 x203.
Robert “Bob” Hamilton
is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service at Buffalo, NY. He is noted for presenting his research of the meteorological conditions that have impacted historic events, including shipwrecks. He presented his study of the weather influencing the time of the foundering of the HMS Ontario at the spring 2012 Great Lakes Meteorological Operational Workshop in Chicago.

Douglas J. Pippin is an historical archaeologist who has studied the provisioning and frontier economy of the British military and displaced Loyalists during the American Revolution. He had conducted fieldwork at Fort Haldimand and at Loyalist settlements in the Exuma Islands in the Bahamas. He received his doctoral degree at Syracuse University.

Jim Kennard, known as “the Jacques Cousteau of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail,” has been featured in such publications National Geographic and Sea Technology magazines for the 200-plus rare and historic shipwrecks he has discovered in numerous waters in his 40-year career. The HMS Ontario is considered an “underwater Holy Grail.”

Dave White, a New York Sea Grant recreation and tourism specialist, has created several educational initiatives, including the “Dive the Seaway Trail” project. His Discover Clean & Safe Boating campaign earned White a BoatUS Foundation Environmental Leadership Commendation. This spring, he was among the invitation-only guests at the White House Community Leaders Briefing on the Great Lakes Region.

Photo courtesy Great Lakes Underwater.

New Seaway Guide: Sailors, Keepers, Shipwrecks, and the Maid


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As Nik Wallenda prepares to walk over Niagara Falls, the newest book in the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Guidebook Series – Sailors, Keepers, Shipwrecks, and The Maid – tells the stories of the Falls’ first tightrope walkers and other daredevils, the famous, and fascinating everyday people who have lived, worked, played and traveled along the Lake Erie, Niagara River, Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River shorelines in New York and Pennsylvania.

Readers will discover interesting details about American Presidents, pirates, pioneers, chefs, lighthouse keepers, artists, and adventurers in the collection of vignettes enhanced by historic photographs, art, illustrations and maps.


The Maid in the new book’s title is the Maid of the Mist tour boat, a Niagara Falls tradition since 1846 and co-sponsor of the book project.

The guide’s introduction encourages driving the full 518 miles of the National Scenic Byway and stopping at a series of Great Lakes Seaway Trail “Outdoor Storyteller” signs to learn more facts about local architecture, agriculture, maritime, military and natural history.

The new book is written by Steve Benson and published by the nonprofit tourism promoter Seaway Trail, Inc., Sackets Harbor, NY. Benson is also co-author of Great Lakes Seaway Trail’s French and Indian War guidebook Waterways of Way: The Struggle for Empire 1754-1763.

Learn more about the Great Lakes Seaway Trail series of travel guides voted “Best of the Byways” by the American Recreation Coalition online at www.seawaytrail.com  or call 315-646-1000 x200.

Lake Erie region stories in Sailors, Keepers, Shipwrecks, and the Maid include: tales of fish wars and Lake Erie’s fury, the Erie Triangle, Dan Rice and Daniel Dobbins, War of 1812 combatants, grape growers, Celeron’s many legacies, the Dunkirk Lighthouse and notable shipwrecks.

Buffalo/Niagara Falls region stories include: Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural masterpieces, a tale of pistols at 12 paces, shipwrecks and pirates, Underground Railroad heroes, the ghost of the French Castle, and the “Cat-of-the-Mist.”

Rochester/Central Lake Ontario region stories include: War of 1812 heroine Bathshua Sheffield Brown (her ancestors operate Brown’s Berry Patch, Waterport, NY); Sam Patch, the Yankee Leaper; photography pioneer George Eastman, the Underground Railroad on Sodus Bay.

Eastern Lake Ontario region stories include: Harriet Tubman and other Underground Railroad heroes, “The Big Cheese,” the War of 1812 Battle of Big Sandy, a female Commandant at Sackets Harbor, a tale of two wrecks, and The Whittlesey Woman.

Thousand Islands/St. Lawrence River region stories include: skiffs, steamships, and yachts; pirate Bill Johnston; a Maple Island murder mystery; two castles; artist Frederic Remington, Fort de La Presentation, and the 1760 Battle of the 1000 Islands.

2011 Great Lakes Seaway Trail Travel Mag Available


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The 2011 Great Lakes Seaway Trail Travel Magazine is now available with stories on wineries, the War of 1812, and enjoying a scenic drive on the 518-mile National Scenic Byway that parallels the St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario, the Niagara River, and Lake Erie in New York and Pennsylvania.

Photographs; a calendar of 110-plus events; a directory of attractions, accommodations and services; and the GPS coordinates for more than 100 Great Lakes Seaway Trail “outdoor storyteller” interpretive signs are also included in the 64-page, full-color magazine.

The front cover of the 2011 edition of the annual glossy travel magazine features a tour boat approaching Boldt Castle in the 1000 Islands region of the byway.

The back cover invites travelers to go geocaching on the byway to collect five elegant Great Lakes Seaway Trail collectible geocoins.

Great Lake Seaway Trail Director of Business Relations Kurt Schumacher says the travel magazine is now reaching new markets.

“In addition to finding the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Travel Magazine at our member sites along the byway, distribution for the guide now includes high-traffic information and welcome centers on interstate routes in New York and Pennsylvania; locations in Kingston, Niagara Falls, Ottawa, and Toronto, Ontario, Canada; and AAA offices in Ohio,” Schumacher says.

The Great Lake Seaway Trail Travel Magazine is also included in Relocation Readiness packets for soldiers arriving at Fort Drum, NY, and in physician recruiting packets developed by Oswego Health, which operates Oswego Hospital, a skilled nursing facility, and a retirement living site in Oswego, NY.

A digital version of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Travel Magazine is online at www.seawaytrail.com/travelmagazine.

War Of 1812 Symposium Planned for Ogdensburg


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During the War of 1812 the dogs of war barked and bit along the U.S. northern frontier from Lake Ontario to Lake Champlain as American forces tangled with their British and Canadian counterparts for two-and-a-half years. The War of 1812 in this region, and its wider implications, will be topics at the third annual War of 1812 Symposium April 29-30 in Ogdensburg, NY, sponsored by the Fort La Présentation Association.

The five presentations by authoritative Canadians and Americans are: Ogdensburg and Prescott during the War of 1812, Paul Fortier; American supply efforts on Lake Ontario: “Cooper’s Ark,” Richard Palmer; “Colonel Louis” and the Native American role in the War of 1812, Darren Bonaparte; The war on the St. Lawrence River, Victor Suthren; and Excavation of American Graves at the 1812 Burlington Cantonment, Kate Kenny. The post-dinner address by Patrick Wilder is the Battle of Sackets Harbor


“We established the symposium in advance of the war’s 2012 bicentennial to help develop a broader public understanding of the War of 1812, so important to the evolution of the United States and Canada,” said Barbara O’Keefe, President of the Fort La Présentation Association. “The annual symposium is a vibrant forum of scholars from both sides of the boarder presenting informative seminars to an enthusiastic audience of academics, history buffs and re-enactors.”

The cost of the symposium is $100 for the Saturday seminars and after-dinner speaker, including a light continental breakfast, a buffet lunch and a sit-down dinner. The Friday evening meet-and-greet with period entertainment by Celtic harpist Sue Croft and hors d’oeuvres is $10.

The symposium and dinner fee for Fort La Présentation Association members is $90, and they will pay $10 for the meet-and-greet.

Other pricing options are available: $80 for the Saturday seminars without dinner; and $35 for the dinner with speaker.

Seminar details and registration instructions on the Fort La Présentation Association webpage.

The Freight House Restaurant in Ogdensburg will host the symposium, as it has in previous years.

The Fort La Présentation Association is a not-for-profit corporation based in Ogdensburg, New York. Its mission is to sponsor or benefit the historically accurate reconstruction of Fort de la Présentation (1749) in close proximity to the original site on Lighthouse Point.

Seminar Presenters

Darren Bonaparte from the Mohawk community of Ahkwesáhsne on the St. Lawrence River is an historical journalist. He created the Wampum Chronicles website in 1999 to promote his research into the history and culture of the Rotinonhsión:ni—the People of the Longhouse. Mr. Bonaparte has been published by Indian Country Today, Native Americas, Aboriginal Voices and Winds of Change, and he has served as an historical consultant for the PBS miniseries The War That Made America; Champlain: The Lake Between; and The Forgotten War: The Struggle for North America.

Paul Fortier, of Kingston, ON, worked 10 years as a military curator and historian for Parks Canada and a following 10 years as a manager at the National Archives of Canada. While living in Prescott, ON, the home he restored was the Stockade Barracks, British military headquarters on the St. Lawrence River during the War of 1812. Mr. Fortier is a founder of the re-enacted Regiment of Canadian Fencible Infantry. He owns Jessup Food & Heritage, providing period food services at Upper Canada Village, Fort Henry and Fort York.

Kate Kenney is the Program Historian at the University of Vermont Consulting Archeology Program. She supervises historic artifact analysis and also helps supervise field work, particularly at historic sites. She is the senior author of Archaeological Investigations at the Old Burial Ground, St. Johnsbury, Vermont. Ms. Kenny has organized and conducted UVM CAP public outreach, including presentations to elementary and high school students. Personal research projects involve Vermont history from the earliest settlement through to the Civil War.

Richard F. Palmer of Syracuse is a senior editor of “Inland Seas,” the quarterly of the Great Lakes Historical Society, and has written some 40 articles for the publication, covering more than 250 years of Lake Ontario’s maritime history. His presentation on “Cooper’s Ark,” is the story of a short-lived floating fortress built in Oswego during the War of 1812, but lost in a storm while sailing to Sackets Harbor. He’ll also recount the attempt to raft lumber for the construction of ships from Oak Orchard to Sackets Harbor; the delivery was intercepted by the British.

Victor Suthren, from Merrickville, Ontario, is an author and historian. He served as Director General of the Canadian War Museum from 1986 to 1998, and is an Honorary Captain in the Canadian Navy and advisor to the Directorate of Naval History and Heritage, Department of National Defence (Canada). He has worked as an advisor to film and television productions and has voyaged extensively as a seaman in traditional “tall ships.” Mr. Suthren has published several works of historical non-fiction, as well as two series of historical sea fiction.

Patrick Wilder is an historian retired from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. He is the author of The Battle of Sackett’s Harbour, 1813.

Photo: Canadian Fencibles Colours, courtesy Fort La Présentation Association.

Oldest Shipwreck Highlight of Great Lakes Underwater Event


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The discovery of the Great Lakes’ oldest confirmed shipwreck – a British warship used in the American Revolution – is the keynote presentation for the March 6, 2010 Great Lakes Underwater conference at SUNY Oswego, Oswego, NY. Underwater explorer Jim Kennard, who might be called the “Great Lakes Jacques Cousteau,” will share the story of how he and diving partner Dan Scoville located the HMS Ontario.

Kennard and Scoville found the sloop-of-war in 500 feet of water May 2008. She was on her way from Fort Niagara in Youngstown, NY, to Oswego and Fort Haldimand on Carleton Island in the St. Lawrence during the Revolutionary War when she sunk in a gale on October 31, 1780. The ship is considered property of the British Admiralty and is to be left undisturbed as a war grave site.

Those attending the Great Lakes Underwater event hosted by New York Sea Grant and the Oswego Maritime Foundation will see a video of the fascinating 229-year-old, 80-foot-long, 22-gun ship and hear the details of her discovery using deep-water sonar scanning. The video images will reveal how well the deep, cool Great Lakes’ water of Lake Ontario preserved her two crow’s nests, carved bow, quarter galleries, anchors and upright masts.

Conference co-organizer David G. White, a coastal recreation and tourism specialist with New York Sea Grant, Oswego, says, “With Jim Kennard as keynote speaker, the 2010 Great Lakes Underwater promises to be a fascinating day of the tales of shipwreck discovery. We are pleased to add our name alongside National Geographic, Sea Technology and others who have recognized the depth and scope of his exploration into the waters of New York.”

In just the past six years, Kennard has discovered 12 historic and rare shipwrecks in Lake Ontario. In his 40-year career, he counts more than 200 discoveries total exploring in Lake Champlain, the Finger Lakes, and the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.

Great Lakes Underwater 2010 will be held in the high-tech SUNY Oswego Campus Center Auditorium. Registration for Great Lakes Underwater is $25 ($20 for students) payable to Cornell University and includes the program, buffet lunch, and refreshments.

For more information, contact New York Sea Grant, SUNY Oswego, Oswego, NY 13126, 315-312-3042, www.oswegomaritime.org/glu.html.

Photo: One of two crow’s nests on the HMS Ontario; courtesy Jim Kennard and Dan Scoville.

US Fish Commission Annual Reports Available Online


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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has placed online the annual reports of the United States Fish Commission, also known as the United States Fish and Fisheries Commission, from 1871-1940 and 1947-1979 in PDF format. The Commission was also part of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and these annual reports present comprehensive overview of the U.S. Fish Commission’s activities for each year. The reports are helpful for historians of commercial fishing areas in New York State including Long Island, the lower Hudson River, the St. Lawrence River, and Lake Erie. The entire collection can be found here.

The U. S. Fish Commission was established in 1871. By 1881 the Commission was known as the U.S. Fish and Fisheries Commission. The Bureau of Biological Survey was established in 1885. In 1903 the name was changed to Bureau of Fisheries. The Bureau of Fisheries was transferred on July 1, 1939, from the Department of Commerce to the Department of the Interior. In 1940 the Bureau of Fisheries and the Bureau of Biological Survey were consolidated to form the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Beginning in July 1946, during the transition from war to peace, the Annual Report became a series of Quarterly Reports which presented a summary of bilogical investigations conducted by the Division of Fishery Biology and a general resume of progress of investigations during the entire year. 1957 was the last issue of Annaul Reports of the Fishery Biology, Department of Interior.

The Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 created the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries and the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife within the Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of Interior. The Report of the Bureau of Commerical Fisheries for the Calendar Year 1958… (published in 1962) was the first report for calender year 1957 and reviewed, in detail, the organization of the Bureau, the history of fishery administration and the operation of the Bureau’s predecessor organizations, U.S. Fish Commission and the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries.

The Report of the National Marine Fisheries Service for Calendar Year 1970-1971 covers the period of transition of the Federal fisheries agency from the Deparment of Interior to the newly formed National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce.

Photo: A diagram of a gill net used for Salmon on the St. Lawrence River from the 1871 U. S. Fish Commission annual report.

Call For Proposals For ‘Maritime Environments’ Conference


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Continued concerns over depleted fish stocks, piracy, changing climate, global shipping policies, and the safety of merchant mariners and port communities have all recently converged to remind scholars, policy makers, and citizens alike that we ignore our relationships to the marine world at our peril. More than just recent phenomena, however, each of these ties between human society and the marine environment has deep historical roots. The event will be held May 12-16, 2010 at the University of Connecticut, Avery Point and Mystic Seaport.

Under the theme “Maritime Environments,” the 2010 annual meeting of the North American Society for Oceanic History (NASOH), the Council of American Maritime Museums (CAMM), the National Maritime History Society (NMHS), and The Steamship Historical Society of America (SSHSA) seeks papers exploring the scholarly contexts of these contemporary crises in the world’s oceans.

All interested scholars, especially historians, marine environmental historians, museum professionals, archaeologists, historical ecologists, and graduate students are invited to submit proposals for papers examining the “maritime” environment.

The Conference Call defines the terms “Maritime” and “Environments” broadly to include the widest range of human relationships to the sea. How have human labor practices affected ties between human communities and natural resources? How and where did humans experience the oceanic realm and how did those sites frame experiences? What economic, defense, commercial, and foreign policy initiatives drive human efforts
in the maritime environment? And, of particular interest, how have human actions affected the world’s oceans, and what can historical records tell us about the changing health of the fisheries, climate, or other natural forces? Finally, how do scholars convey these lessons to a larger public?

Individual papers are welcome, but full sessions with three papers and a chair are preferred. Proposals should include a brief abstract of 500 words for each paper, plus a one-page abstract for proposed panels, and a brief bio of 200 words for each participant, including chairs. Graduate students are strongly encouraged to submit
proposals for presentations. Accommodations for PowerPoint presentations
will be provided; however, any other requirements, including audio-visual equipment, special outlets, or accommodations for disabilities should be included in the proposal. Scholars interested in chairing sessions are welcome to send a brief bio to the Program Committee Co-chairs. Please note that all participants must register for
the conference.

Specific questions may be directed to Program Committee Co-Chairs, Matthew McKenzie (matthew.mckenzie@uconn.edu), Brian Payne (bjpayne@odu.edu), or Vic Mastone (victor.mastone@state.ma.us).

The deadline for submissions is January 31, 2010.

Photo: 1904. Erie Canal at Salina Street, Syracuse, New York.” Detroit Publishing Company glass negative, Library of Congress.

Stolen 1612 Map of Canada to be Auctioned?


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Thanks to The Map Room we learn that a rare copy of Samuel de Champlain’s 1612 map of Canada set to be auctioned at Sotheby’s next month, may be the same map discovered missing from Harvard University in 2005.

The Calgary Herald has the whole story:

The Harvard map was found missing in 2005 during an FBI investigation into a string of thefts from major libraries in the U.S. and Britain that saw about 100 cartographic treasures – worth an estimated $3 million US in total – sliced from centuries-old atlases and exploration journals.

Massachusetts antiquarian E. Forbes Smiley, a well-known collector and dealer of rare maps, eventually admitted to the thefts and is serving three years in a U.S. prison for the crime.

He helped authorities recover many of the stolen maps as part of a plea bargain, but the 1612 Champlain map removed from Harvard’s Houghton Library was not among those he admitted taking.

The Champlain map is one of top-priced items at Sotheby’s Nov. 13 Natural History, Travel, Atlases and Maps sale. According to the Calgary Herald the map was the first to be published to show Montreal, Lake Champlain and the Great Lakes as a chain of connected waterways.