Shipwreck Preserve Site at Indiana Dunes State Park – A First for Indiana!

JD Marshall PreserveThe first underwater nature preserve in Indiana, the J.D. Marshall Preserve now has an underwater plaque and mooring buoys installed on site, said Mike Molnar, program manager for the Lake Michigan Coastal Program. “People think government only thinks ‘inside the box.’ This project highlights the innovation that can be achieved.” Located north of the Indiana Dunes State Park, the plaque is secured in 28 feet of water and highlights the J.D. Marshall capsizing and sinking in a storm with four lives lost on June 11, 1911. Three mooring buoys allow fishermen and divers to tie off rather than use anchors which can damage the 100-acre preserve. Dedicated on Sept. 20, 2013, the site is open for diving and fishing but precautions are being taken to protect it from scavengers. This first-in-the-state preserve was inducted last fall into The Society of Innovators with Team Member status reflecting the more than 20 individuals and several divisions engaged in this historic project starting in 2009. They are: DNR Division of Nature Preserves and its Lake Michigan Coastal Program; the DNR Divisions of Historic Preservation & Archaeology, Law Enforcement; State Parks, Fish & Wildlife. One of 14 documented shipwrecks in Indiana waters, the J.D. Marshall actually sank twice, Molnar said. “Salvage hunters raised it. They were stopped by conservation police, but lines holding the wreck broke, sending it back into the lake.” The propeller is on display outside the pavilion at the state park. He said 3D models of the ship will be available for viewing in two months on Indianashipwrecks.org.

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