Dunes shipwreck named nature preserve
BY AMY LAVALLEY Post-Tribune correspondent September 30, 2013 5:04PM
For more on the J.D. Marshall Nature Preserve at the Indiana Dunes State Park, go to www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/2980.htm, and click on the link for the PDF on the preserve.
More on the state’s shipwrecks also can be found at www.indianashipwrecks.org.
Updated: November 2, 2013 6:06AM
CHESTERTON — When the J.D. Marshall sank to its watery grave 600 yards off of what is now the pavilion of the Indiana Dunes State Park, it took four crewmembers down with it.
They were remembered Monday when the Marshall, which sank on June 11, 1911, was named the state’s first underwater nature preserve.
“The J.D. Marshall has long lain in the shadow of the Indiana State Park as a reminder of the long history of the shipping industry on the Great Lakes,” said Dan Bortner, director of Indiana State Parks and Reservoirs. “This is a reminder of that sacrifice for time immemorial.”
The Marshall, with a cargo load of sand, anchored in the predawn hours to weather a storm. The ship began to leak and rolled in the storm; if its 11 crewmembers, four died: First Mate Martin Donahue, Fireman Gus Jake, Assistant Engineer Charles Langeman and Seaman John Wisemann.
By spring, buoys will mark the 100-acre preserve, which will be open to divers and for fishing, though anchoring will not be permitted within the preserve’s boundaries.
The preserve will protect not only the wreck, said Cameron Clark, director of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, but also its history.
“It’s to keep it alive for those who did not know we had much of a maritime history in Indiana, and for access,” Clark said during the dedication, held west of the beach pavilion.
The Lake Michigan Coastal Program received a $145,000 non-matching grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that helped establish the preserve, said program manager Mike Molnar from the coastal program.
That money was used to survey the 14 shipwrecks within Indiana’s Lake Michigan boundaries. Some surveys were conducted directly, with divers; others, indirectly, with sonar, Molnar said.
The project, done over three years, wasn’t started to establish an underwater preserve, Molnar said, but given the Marshall’s proximity to the state park, it seemed like a good place to start.
The park also has an interpretive program on the Marshall already in place, as well as a display about it in the park’s nature center.
“This one, for the first preserve, made the most sense because it’s part of the state park,” said Kira Kaufmann, principal investigator and underwater archeologist with Commonwealth Cultural Resources Group, which had the contract for the survey of the state’s shipwrecks.
The preserve serves as another niche for visitors to the area, particularly scuba divers, said Lorelei Weimer, executive director of Indiana Dunes Tourism.
“I think people are amazed at some of that history living under that water,” she said.