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Ghost Ships Festival in Milwaukee


Divers explore the wreck of the Rouse Simmons, also known as the "Christmas tree ship," which sank in a storm in Lake Michigan 100 years ago

Wisconsin Historical Society underwater archaeologists Keith Meverden and Tamara Thomsen will represent the Society's underwater archaeology program at the 2012 Ghost Ships Festival in Milwaukee on Friday and Saturday, April 13–14. The festival will convene at the Wyndham Hotel and Convention Center, directly across from the General Mitchell International Airport. The Ghost Ships Festival is Wisconsin's largest trade show devoted to scuba diving and Great Lakes maritime history. Exhibits, workshops and presentations cover just about every aspect of Great Lakes maritime history and scuba diving. Attendees can listen to and interact with leading dive industry professionals, extreme explorers, maritime historians and Great Lakes authors.

Showcasing the Society's Underwater Archaeological Field Work

Divers and archaeologists, Meverden and Thomsen, will staff a table in the Exhibit Hall that will include a rotating computer display of images shot above and below water during recent archaeological field work. Literature about the maritime program's work, including its latest field report on the program's 2010 and 2011 field seasons, will also be available. While supplies last, free copies of the 2012 Wisconsin Archaeology Month posters, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Christmas tree ship (pictured above), will be available as well.

The posters' centerpiece is a stunning, high-resolution mosaic of the wreck of the Rouse Simmons, imaged for the Society by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution's Advanced Imaging and Visualization Laboratory. The imaging and visualization lab's technicians came to Wisconsin in 2009 to dive on the Rouse Simmons while developing techniques and testing equipment that were used to produce the amazing Titanic mosaics that are in the April 2012 edition of National Geographic. The Exhibit Hall is free and open to the public.

Presentation on the Sinking of the Scow-Schooner, Silver Lake

At 10 am Saturday, Thomsen will give a presentation in the East Ballroom on the sinking of the scow-schooner, Silver Lake, which the car ferry Pere Marquette ran down in heavy fog in the early morning hours of May 28, 1900, nearly cutting the scow in two. Today the wreck lies upright and intact in 205 feet of water eight miles northeast of Sheboygan. The vessel's foremast stands upright with its crosstree yet attached, and the wreckage shows evidence of the ship's tragic loss. During the summer of 2011, the Wisconsin Historical Society conducted an archaeological survey of the site, which resulted in the nomination of the wreck site to the National Register of Historic Places.

For Festival Tickets

Tickets to the presentations on Friday night and Saturday are $20 until April 12 and $25 if purchased at the door. Children 12 and younger are free. To purchase tickets, visit the Ghost Ships Festival website.

:: Posted April 9, 2012

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