|Thumb Area Underwater Preserve|
|Location||Lake Huron, Huron County, Michigan USA|
|Nearest city||Port Austin, Michigan|
|Area||276 square miles (710 km2)|
|Governing body||Michigan Department of Natural Resources|
The Thumb Area Underwater Preserve is a preservation area in Lake Huron in the U.S. state of Michigan. It is 276 square miles (710 km2) in size and is located off Michigan's Thumb north of Detroit.
The Thumb Area Underwater Preserve protects bottomlands off Pointe aux Barques and the beach port towns of Harbor Beach, Huron City, and Port Austin. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has counted 10 known shipwrecks within the boundaries protected by the preserve.
As in most of the Great Lakes, most of the shipwrecks predate the consolidation of federal marine safety services into the United States Coast Guard in 1915.
The foundered SS Daniel J. Morrell, a lake freighter which split in two and sank in 1966 with a loss of 28 lives, also lies off the shore of Michigan's Thumb, but outside the boundaries of the Underwater Preserve.
The Underwater Preserve protects a network of limestone sea caves off Port Austin. Near Port Austin is the largely depopulated former town of Grindstone City, where grindstones were quarried. Some of the specialized stones were lost overboard near the quarries and can be seen underwater as of 2009.
Lake Huron is one of the five Great Lakes of North America. Hydrologically, it comprises the easterly portion of Lake Michigan–Huron, having the same surface elevation as Lake Michigan, to which it is connected by the 5-mile-wide (8.0 km), 20-fathom-deep Straits of Mackinac. It is shared on the north and east by the Canadian province of Ontario and on the south and west by the U.S. state of Michigan. The name of the lake is derived from early French explorers who named it for the Huron people inhabiting the region.
Huron County is a county in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2020 Census, the population was 31,407. The county seat is Bad Axe. Huron County is at the northern tip of the Thumb, which is a sub region of Mid Michigan. It is a peninsula, bordered by Saginaw Bay to the west and Lake Huron to the north and east, and has over 90 miles (140 km) of shoreline, from White Rock on Lake Huron to Sebewaing on the Saginaw Bay. Huron County's most important industry is agriculture, as with most of the other Thumb counties. Huron County enjoys seasonal tourism from large cities such as Detroit, Flint, and Saginaw. A lot of the tourism is in the Port Austin and Caseville area.
M-25 is a state trunkline highway in the US state of Michigan. The route follows an arc-like shape closely along the Lake Huron shore of the Thumb in the eastern Lower Peninsula between Port Huron and Bay City. It serves the lakeshore resorts along Lake Huron and Saginaw Bay and generally lies within sight of the lake and the bay. All is surface road and generally scenic, except for the freeway segment near the junction with Interstate 75 (I-75) and connection into the US Highway 10 (US 10) freeway.
The Thumb is a region and a peninsula of the U.S. state of Michigan, so named because the Lower Peninsula is shaped like a mitten. The Thumb area is generally considered to be in the Central Michigan region, east of the Tri-Cities and north of Metro Detroit. The region is also branded as the Blue Water Area.
The Marquette Underwater Preserve was established in 1990 to promote conservation of the submerged historical resources in Lake Superior near Marquette, Michigan. The Preserve is composed of two separate units, the Marquette Unit and the Huron Islands Unit. The Marquette Unit extends along approximately 24 miles of Michigan shoreline out to the 200-foot depth contour. The Huron Islands Unit surrounds a group of granite peaks about 12 miles from shore. The Michigan Underwater Preserve Council oversees activities relating to all of Michigan's Underwater Preserves.
Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve is a United States National Marine Sanctuary on Lake Huron's Thunder Bay, within the northeastern region of the U.S. state of Michigan. It protects an estimated 116 historically significant shipwrecks ranging from nineteenth-century wooden side-wheelers to twentieth-century steel-hulled steamers. There are a great many wrecks in the sanctuary, and their preservation and protection is a concern for national policymakers. The landward boundary of the sanctuary extends from the western boundary of Presque Isle County to the southern boundary of Alcona County. The sanctuary extends east from the lakeshore to the international border. Alpena is the largest city in the area.
The protected areas of Michigan come in an array of different types and levels of protection. Michigan has five units of the National Park Service system. There are 14 federal wilderness areas; the majority of these are also tribal-designated wildernesses. It has one of the largest state forest systems as well having four national forests. The state maintains a large state park system and there are also regional parks, and county, township and city parks. Still other parks on land and in the Great Lakes are maintained by other governmental bodies. Private protected areas also exist in the state, mainly lands owned by land conservancies.
Michigan Underwater Preserves or Michigan Bottomland Preserves are protected areas of the Great Lakes on Michigan's coast. The thirteen designated areas, comprising a surface area of over 7,000 square miles (18,000 km2), are considered to be "Underwater museums" and serve to protect concentrations of shipwrecks, unique geologic features and other submerged sites through awareness and public interest. The program is currently receiving no funding from the state and does not offer any extra legal protection for the sites in the preserves. However, it is a felony to remove or disturb underwater artifacts in the Great Lakes. Persons apprehended and convicted of removing or willfully damaging underwater artifacts risk confiscation of their equipment, stiff fines and up to two years imprisonment. The Michigan Underwater Preserve Council advocates on behalf of all of Michigan's Underwater Preserves.
US Highway 25 (US 25) was a part of the United States Numbered Highway System in the state of Michigan that ran from the Ohio state line near Toledo and ended at the tip of The Thumb in Port Austin. The general routing of this state trunkline highway took it northeasterly from the state line through Monroe and Detroit to Port Huron. Along this southern half, it followed undivided highways and ran concurrently along two freeways, Interstate 75 (I-75) and I-94. Near the foot of the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron, US 25 turned north and northwesterly along the Lake Huron shoreline to Port Austin.
The Whitefish Point Underwater Preserve was established in 1987 to protect and conserve shipwrecks and historical resources on 376 square miles (970 km2) of Lake Superior bottomlands in Whitefish Bay and around Whitefish Point, Michigan. The formation of the Michigan Underwater Preserves helped stop controversy over artifact removal from shipwrecks of this area. The preserve is now known for deep, well preserved shipwrecks in clear water accessible to scuba divers with technical skill and experience. The preserve is one of the last places in the Great Lakes to observe shipwrecks without zebra mussel encrustation.
The SS Vienna was built in 1873 during the era when steamers were built with sail rigging. She had a 19 year career marked with maritime incidents including sinking when she was just 3 years old. She sank for her final time in fair weather in Whitefish Bay in Lake Superior after she received a mortal blow when she was inexplicably rammed by the steamer Nipigon. Although no lives were lost when the Vienna sank for the last time, more than 100 years later her wreck claimed the lives of 4 scuba divers, the most of all the wrecks in the Whitefish Point Underwater Preserve that now protects her as part of an underwater museum. Her wreck was stripped of artifacts that resulted in the Michigan Department of Natural Resources seizing her artifacts in a raid on the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum in 1992. Her artifacts are now on display in this museum as loan from the State of Michigan.
The Sagamore is reported to be the best example of a whaleback barge among Great Lakes shipwrecks. Only 44 whalebacks were ever built, and out of the 26 that sank, only 8 sank in the Great Lakes, most of them being blown up for blocking shipping channels. She sank in 1901 in the shipping lane near the Soo Locks when she was rammed by the steel steamer Northern Queen in one of Whitefish Bay's notorious fogs. Her captain and two crew members went down with her. Artifacts from her wreck were illegally removed in the 1980s. Her artifacts are now the property of the State of Michigan and are on display as a loan to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. The wreck of the Sagamore is protected as part of an underwater museum in the Whitefish Point Underwater Preserve.
The Keweenaw Underwater Preserve is a preservation area in the U.S. state of Michigan. Located in Lake Superior, it protects waters that lie offshore Keweenaw Peninsula.
The SS M.M. Drake was a wooden steam barge that towed consorts loaded with coal and iron ore on the Great Lakes. She came to the rescue of the crews of at least 4 foundering vessels in her 19 year career only to meet the same fate in her final rescue attempt. Drake sank in 1901 off Vermilion Point after a rescue attempt of her consort Michigan. Her rudder, anchor, and windlass were illegally removed from her wreck site in the 1980s. They are now the property of the State of Michigan. The rudder is on display as a loan to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum and the anchor and windlass are on loan for display to Whitefish Township Community Center. The wreck of Drake is protected as part of an underwater museum in the Whitefish Point Underwater Preserve.
The Grand Traverse Bay Underwater Preserve is a preservation area that encompasses all of Grand Traverse Bay, a bay of Lake Michigan, in the U.S. state of Michigan. It is 295 square miles (760 km2) in size and is located off Traverse City, Michigan.
SS Myron was a wooden steamship built in 1888. She spent her 31-year career as lumber hooker, towing schooner barges on the Great Lakes. She sank in 1919, in a Lake Superior November gale. All of her 17 crew members were killed but her captain survived. He was found drifting on wreckage near Ile Parisienne. Her tow, the Miztec, survived. Myron defied the adage that Lake Superior "seldom gives up her dead" when all 17 crewmembers were found frozen to death wearing their life jackets. Local residents chopped eight of Myron's sailors from the ice on the shore of Whitefish Bay and buried them at the Mission Hill Cemetery in Bay Mills Township, Michigan.
The Miztec was built as a 3-masted schooner in 1890. She was later converted to a schooner barge and served as a consort for lumber hookers on the Great Lakes. She escaped destruction in a severe 1919 storm that sank her longtime companion, the SS Myron, only to sink on the traditional day of bad luck, Friday the 13th, 1921, with the loss of all hands. She came to rest on Lake Superior's bottom off Whitefish Point near the Myron.
The Sport was a tugboat, built in 1873 and wrecked in 1920 in Lake Huron. The wreck site, designated 20UH105, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.
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