A 501.c(3) Non-Profit Organization
Founded by Ann Merriman, PhD, and Christopher Olson, MA, in July 2005 in St Paul, MN
Find the Curriculum Vitae for MHM's founders HERE
Donations to Maritime Heritage Minnesota are tax-deductible
See MHM's new Lake Minnetonka Nautical Archaeology Project 3 Report &
Minnesota Dugout Canoe Project Report below!
Site Updated – 14 September 2014
E-mail MHM email@example.com
Phone: 651.261.2265 or 651.202.8811
MHM's researchers are Licensed Archaeologists through the Minnesota Office of the State Archaeologist.
See our licenses here: 2014 Licenses
A Statement From MHM: Shipwrecks are not commodities. Every artifact, be it a shipwreck, solitary anchor, or bottle tells a story. Removing or otherwise disturbing artifacts can obliterate that story. Nautical archaeological sites – wrecks – and maritime archaeological sites – piers and other objects – are finite and significant submerged cultural resources – otherwise known as underwater archaeological sites. Nautical, maritime, underwater, maritime terrestrial – MHM deals with all of these types of sites throughout the State of Minnesota. MHM's mission is to document, conserve, preserve, and when necessary, excavate these finite cultural resources where the welfare of the artifact is paramount. MHM is concerned with protecting our underwater and maritime sites – our shared Maritime History – for their own benefit in order for all Minnesotans to gain the knowledge that can be obtained through their study. MHM's study of wrecks does not include the removal of artifacts or damaging the sites in any way. MHM does not raise wrecks or 'hunt' for 'treasure'. Submerged archaeological sites in Minnesota are subject to the same State statutes as terrestrial sites: the Minnesota Field Archaeology Act (1963), Minnesota Historic Sites Act (1965), the Minnesota Historic District Act (1971), and the Minnesota Private Cemeteries Act (1976) if human remains are associated with a submerged site. Further, the case of State v. Bollenbach (1954) and the Federal Abandoned Shipwrecks Act of 1987 provide additional jurisdictional considerations when determining State oversight and "ownership" of resources defined by law as archaeological sites. Therefore, just like terrestrial archaeologists working for the State or with contract firms, underwater archaeologists are required to have the necessary education, appropriate credentials, and hold valid licenses from the Office of the State Archaeologist.
See MHM's yearly reports to the Office of the State Archaeologist here:
2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
Maritime Heritage Minnesota has successfully nominated the Andy Gibson Wreck Site to the National Register of Historic Places! Our thanks to National Register Archaeologist David Mather for his assistance in this undertaking.
See 'Christopher's Mystery Photo' HERE
|Maritime Heritage Minnesota Projects|
Heritage Minnesota has completed the Lake Minnetonka Nautical
Archaeology 1 and 2 Projects using data
accumulated during two Phase 1 side and
sonar surveys of the lake in 2011 and 2012. Before MHM's work began, 6
Lake Minnetonka wrecks were known, with one of them recognized as an
archaeological site by the Office of the State Archaeologist. MHM archaeologists and an ethical group of volunteer SCUBA
on 83 anomalies between October 2012 and November August 2014,
confirming the natures of 30 new wrecks on the bottom of Lake
Minnetonka (although one of the wrecks is a Woodlands Culture Dugout
Canoe taken from the lake in 1934 - see the Minnesota Dugout Canoe
Project below). One of these wrecks is the famed Saucy Kate.
Of the known 36 wrecks on the bottom of Lake Minnetonka, 23 of them are
designated as nautical
archaeological sites by the Office of the State Archaeologist because
of MHM's projects. MHM has also
identified other submerged cultural resources in the lake as well,
including a steamboat pier, a group of marine launch boilers, a pontoon
1936 Plymouth Sedan, a Ford Model T Doodlebug (a car converted inot a
tractor), a 1974 Chevrolet Caprice Classic Coupe, and a 1955 Mercury
Four Door Sedan. To see more click the links
below - including underwater video shot by MHM's volunteers during our work.|
Lake Minnetonka Nautical Archaeology 1 Project
Lake Minnetonka Surveys 1 & 2 (Updated)
Correct Craft Wreck Video by Kelly Nehowig
Mercury & Motorized Ice Boat Video by Kelly Nehowig
Wayzata Bay Wreck Video by Ed Nelson
Lund Fishing Boat Wreck Video by Kelly Nehowig
Echo Bay Metal Barge Wreck Video by Kelly Nehowig
Aluma-Craft Model R Wreck Video by Ed Nelson
Terra-Marina Houseboat Wreck Video by Mark Slick
MHM recorded this sonar image of the St. Albans Bay Wreck (21-HE-400) and Anomaly 69 n September 2011. Anomaly 69 is the Lund Fishing Boat Wreck that was reported stolen in July 1977.
MHM dove on the Wayzata Bay Wreck (21-HE-401) in May 2013. This dive determined the wreck is a rare model barge that sank on September 29, 1879.
MHM dove on the Saucy Kate Wreck (21-HE-420) in September 2013. Data collected during this dive allowed MHM to determine her identity through historical documentation. The site is very dark because the wreck lies in a gully and light doesn't reach the site easily. She sank in September 1899.
|Access and Download MHM's Lake Minnetonka Reports|
|MHM's Lake Minnetonka Projects: In the Media|
|Lake Minnetonka Nautical Archaeology 1 Project
Lake Minnetonka Survey 1 and 2 Projects
Minnesota Dugout Canoe Project
Aitkin, Chippewa, Dodge/Steele, Hennepin, McLeod, Meeker, & Wright Counties
Heritage Minnesota has completed the Minnesota Dugout Canoe Project.
MHM located 8 dugout canoes in Minnesota museums and historical
societies, receiving permission from these institutions to document the
artifacts and take a small wood sample for radiocarbon testing using
Accelerated Mass Spectrometry. The dugout canoes dated from AD
1025-1933, spanning nearly 1,000 years of Minnesota maritime
history. MHM was able to establish where the exact locations where two
of the dugout canoes were found and they have been recognized as
archaeological sites by the Office of the State Archaeologist. MHM
plans to build upon this project since two more Native American dugout
canoes have been located in the state after the project had begun.
These artifacts, along with any others that are located, will be
documented and radiocarbon tested. To
see more click the link below.|
Minnesota Dugout Canoe Project
This wood sample was taken from the Minnesota River Dugout Canoe for 14C dating using Accelerated Mass Spectrometry and dates to
The Lake Minnetonka North Arm Dugout Canoe (21-HE-438) housed at the Western Hennepin County Pioneers Association. This artifact dates to AD 1025-1165 and was constructed and used by people of the Woodlands Culture.
The Chippewa River Dugout Canoe dates to AD 1436-1522 and was constructed and used by the people of the Plains Village Tradition. It is held by the Chippewa County Historical Society.
|Access and Download MHM's Minnesota Dugout Canoe Project Report|
|MHM's Minnesota Dugout Canoe Project: In the Media|
|Maritime Heritage Minnesota has been documenting wrecks in the Headwaters Mississippi River in Aitkin since 2008: Andy Gibson (21-AK-109), Swan (21-AK-84), and since 2012 the Red Mill Wreck (21-AK-122) after her discovery by MHM. The Andy Gibson, Swan, and the Red Mill Wreck are significant to Minnesota's - and America's - maritime history since
they are located hundreds of miles above Minneapolis, the point that
has been commonly accepted as the 'head of navigation' of the 'Upper
Mississippi' River. The true Head of Navigation is the Headwaters
Mississippi River region, where 12 steamboats plied the river between
Aitkin, Sandy Lake, and Grand Rapids from 1870-1921. In 2012 and 2013, MHM began documetning the Red Mill Wreck and between
2008 and 2012, Maritime Heritage Minnesota has documented about 50% of
the Andy Gibson Wreck Site and MHM successfully nominated her to the National Register of Historic Places.
In 2010 MHM conducted a Phase 1 side and down imaging sonar survey of the Mississippi River in Aitkin County, a distance of 104 miles. Beyond the known sites of Andy Gibson and Swan, MHM identified three maritime sites near Jacobson (Mississippi Landing Railroad Spur & Bridge Remians [21-AK-115], Mississippi Landing Logging Pier, [21-AK-116]) and at the confluence of the Sandy and Mississippi Rivers (Sandy River Steamboat Crib, 21-AK-117). MHM conducted the Aitkin County Shipwrecks Project in September and October 2012 with funds provided by a Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Grant, and located two additional maritime sites in Aitkin (Burton & Anderson/Hodgeden & McDonald Mill and Landing, 21-AK-124) and south of Palisade (Tripp Landing, 21-AK-123). The Aitkin County Shipwrecks Project page also includes information on the Andy Gibson wreck site. To see more click the links below.
Andy Gibson Documentation
Aitkin County Shipwrecks Project
Mississippi River Aitkin County Survey
Andy Gibson moored at a landing on the Headwaters Mississippi River (Itasca County Historical Society).
The steamer Fawn moored near a wanigan on the Headwaters Mississippi River, with Andy Gibson steaming up in the background (Minnesota Historical Society, digitized by MHM).
An early morning on the Headwaters Mississippi River near the Red Mill Wreck.
|Access and Download MHM's Headwaters Mississippi River Reports|
|MHM's Headwaters Mississippi River Projects: In the Media|
|National Register of Historic Places Property: Andy Gibson Wreck Documentation and Preservation
Tree Mitigation Project
Starboard Gunwale & Deck
Dry Nautical Excavation
& Initial Documentation
Heritage Minnesota conducts yearly condition assessments of
North America's premier clipper ship builder Donald McKay's USS Essex (21-SL-1030). The Essex
wreck is the only example of McKay's craftsmanship confirmed to exist
and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The wreck is
nationally significant in terms of Naval Architecture and Naval
History. Unfortunately, the site is in danger from ice damage, sand
erosion, and humans - looting and vandalism - and she has suffered from
all of these harmful activities over the decades. Using three grants
awarded through the Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Grants Program,
MHM has produced a plan to preserve the USS Essex, digitized the ship's
known 62 log books, and begun the transcription and editing of the
books for free internet access. To see more click the link below.|
USS Essex Investigations
Donald McKay's last ship, the sloop-of-war USS Essex, under sail (Naval Historical Center, digitized by MHM).
|Access and Download MHM's USS Essex Reports and Log Books|
Heritage Minnesota conducted side and down
imaging sonar surveys of White Bear Lake and Lake Waconia. MHM
identified 3 wreck sites in White Bear Lake, but further investigation
of these sunken vessels must be conducted before we can designate them
as nautical archaeological sites. In addition, another 21 anomalies in
White Bear Lake warrent further investigation to determine their
natures. In Lake Waconia, MHM identified 46 anomalies that require
further research. In September 2013 MHM investigated 10 anomalies in
Lake Waconia and none of them were submerged cultural resources. MHM
will re-prioritize the anomalies recorded by sonar in an attempt to
identify wrecks and other resources in Lake Waconia. See MHM's reports
on White Bear Lake and Lake Waconia below.|
Lake Waconia Survey
MHM recorded this sonar image of the 'Ordway's Bar Wreck' in August 2012. This wreck remains an anomaly and not an official nautical archaeological site until MHM can determine her age.
|Access & Download MHM's White Bear Lake & Lake Waconia Reports|
|MHM's White Bear Lake & Lake Waconia Projects: In the Media
|Maritime Heritage Minnesota
has conducted a side and down imaging sonar
survey of the Minnesota River from its confluence with the Mississippi
River to past Belle Plaine, with terrestrial surveys taking place in
Shakopee, Chaska, near Jordan, Blakely, and Henderson. Several maritime
sites were recorded and researched, with 1 maritime archaeological
site designated - the Belle Plain Levee and Bridge Remains (21-SC-098, 21-SB-027). MHM
recorded 2 anomalies that may be watercraft wrecks that require futher
investigation. To see more, click the link below.|
Minnesota River Survey
The Chaska Ferry on the Minnesota River in the 1890s
(Minnesota Historical Society, digitized by MHM).
|Access and Download MHM's Minnesota River Survey Report|
|MHM's Minnesota River Survey: In the Media
MHM at Archaeology Fairs and Conferences
|Every year Maritime
Heritage Minnesota participates
in Minnesota Archaeology Week activities at Fort Snelling State Park.
The Archaeology Fair is staged from the Thomas C. Savage Center and
every year more people visit the fair. To see more, click the
|Every year Maritime
Heritage Minnesota travels to Mille Lacs Kathio State Park for
Archaeology Day activities. To
see more, click the links below (due to technical difficulties, photos
from the 2011 Kathio Archaeology Day are not available).
2013 Kathio Archaeology Day
2012 Kathio Archaeology Day
|MHM presented a talk at the Gales
of November Conference in Duluth in 2011 on our on-going USS Essex
assessments and the log book digitization, editing, and transcription
project. We also brought our static exhibit to further inform
conference goers about our other work. To see more, click the link
2011 Gales of November Conference
presented at the Council for Minnesota Archaeology Conference at Inver
Hills Community College in February 2011. The theme was "Farmsteads,
Factories, Forts and Frontiers" and MHM talked about the Mississippi
River Aitkin County Survey results. MHM will also be participating in
the conference in February 2013. To see more, click the link
|Other Publications by MHM Archaeologists
|MHM in East Carolina
University's Stem to Stern
|Maritime Heritage Minnesota
Titles at Amazon Kindle
|Title Available at