In The Heroic Age of Diving: America’s Underwater Pioneers and the Great Wrecks of Lake Erie (SUNY Press Excelsior Editions, 2016), Jerry Kuntz shares the fascinating stories of the pioneers of underwater invention and the brave divers who employed the new technologies as they raced with – and against – marine engineers to salvage the tragic wrecks of Lake Erie.
Beginning in 1837, some of the most brilliant engineers of America’s Industrial Revolution turned their attention to undersea technology. Inventors developed practical hard-helmet diving suits, as well as new designs of submarines, diving bells, floating cranes, and undersea explosives. These innovations were used to clear shipping lanes, harvest pearls, mine gold, and wage war.
All of these underwater technologies were brought together by entrepreneurs, treasure-hunters, and daring divers in the 1850s to salvage three infamous shipwrecks on Lake Erie, each of which had involved the loss of hundreds of lives, as well as the worldly goods of the passengers. The prospect of treasure, combined with the national notoriety of these disasters, soon attracted the attention of local adventurers and the country’s leading divers and marine engineers.
Author Jerry Kuntz is an electronic resources consultant and the author of Minnesota’s Notorious Nellie King: Wild Woman of the Closed Frontier.
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