Skip to main content

Submerged resources

Wisconsin's submerged cultural resources, found along the bottoms and margins of the state's lakes and rivers, demonstrate the important role of navigable waterways throughout the state's history. These traces of the past include remnants of prehistoric dugout canoes, fur trade era materials, sunken old-growth logs and logging era related hardware and, especially, shipwrecks.

Wreck of the FinnMcCool
Wisconsin Historical Society underwater archaeologist Keith Meverden examines the wreck of the Finn McCool off Bayfield, Wisconsin, © Tamara Thomsen, Wisconsin Historical Society.



The state's waters hold the wrecks of many ships that plied the Great Lakes for purposes of exploration, commerce and leisure. Like other archaeological resources, these submerged resources are protected against unauthorized disturbance. While not immediately accessible to most of us, shallow, near shore remnants are often visible especially during episodes of low water, while others are visible just below the surface. A number of dedicated websites provide an opportunity to explore Wisconsin's maritime history without ever getting wet!