War Eagle Shipwreck listed in the State Register of Historic Places | Wisconsin Historical Society

News Release

Dec. 4, 2019 - War Eagle Shipwreck listed in the State Register of Historic Places

For Immediate Release

War Eagle Shipwreck listed in the State Register of Historic Places | Wisconsin Historical Society
EnlargeWar Eagle Shipwreck, La Crosse

War Eagle Shipwreck

La Crosse, WI. - The Wisconsin Historical Society placed the War Eagle Shipwreck in La Crosse, La Crosse County in the State Register of Historic Places in November.

The sidewheel steamboat War Eagle is the only known river sidewheel steamboat shipwreck in Wisconsin waters, providing historians and archaeologists the rare chance to study the construction of vessels commonly used on the upper Mississippi River. The War Eagle shipwreck site has yielded and is likely to yield, information about vessel construction, the life of people at that time, and the commodities that were being shipped. Although the vessel is located in an area of black water (low to no visibility), strong and potentially dangerous current and cross current conditions, and high occurrence of other debris at the bottom of the river that could prove to be a safety threat to divers, there is potential for future discoveries as technological advancements in remote sensing and robotics continue to flourish.

Furthermore, the site is significant for its association with Commerce. Before rail lines were constructed west of the Mississippi River, steamboats like the War Eagle were an important link in connecting peoples and goods between the economically and culturally developed eastern markets with the virgin territory west of the Mississippi, defining its place in the larger context of maritime history. The War Eagle is a rare example of a vessel type that was vital to Wisconsin’s economy, the economy of the Midwest, and transportation infrastructure during the development of road and rail networks east of the Mississippi. This vessel also played an important role the movement of military troops and supplies during the American Civil War.

State laws protect this shipwreck, and it is a protected burial site. Divers may not remove artifacts or structure when visiting this site. Removing, defacing, displacing, or destroying artifacts or sites, is a crime. More information on Wisconsin’s historic shipwrecks may be found by visiting Wisconsin’s Great Lakes Shipwrecks website.

The State Register is Wisconsin's official list of state properties determined to be significant to Wisconsin's heritage.  The State Historic Preservation Office at the Wisconsin Historical Society administers both the State Register and National Register in Wisconsin.

To learn more about the State and National Register programs in Wisconsin, visit www.wisconsinhistory.org

About the Wisconsin Historical Society
The Wisconsin Historical Society, founded in 1846, ranks as one of the largest, most active and most diversified state historical societies in the nation. As both a state agency and a private membership organization, its mission is to help people connect to the past by collecting, preserving and sharing stories. The Wisconsin Historical Society serves millions of people every year through a wide range of sites, programs and services. For more information, visit wisconsinhistory.org.