Minnesota's Legacy

Minnesota Suburban Lakes Nautical Archaeology Project: Anomaly Assessment

Project Details by Fiscal Year
2017 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Fund Source
Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund
Maritime Heritage Minnesota
Recipient Type
Non-Profit Business/Entity
Start Date
July 2017
End Date
July 2018
Activity Type
Counties Affected
2017 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Other Funds Leveraged
Direct expenses
Administration costs
Number of full time equivalents funded
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

Available upon request. Contact grants@mnhs.org

Measurable Outcome(s)

MHM short and intermediate term goals for this project were met in every measurable way. MHM's primary goals for the Minnesota Suburban Lakes Nautical Archaeology Project: Anomaly Assessment (MSLNA:AA) Project, a Phase 1 archaeological reconnaissance survey, was to determine the nature of specific anomalies - possible shipwrecks & other submerged sites-located during the Minnesota Suburban Lakes Survey Project (MSLS) conducted in 2016 & the Lake Waconia Survey Project (LWS) in 2012. The MSLNA-AA Project produced interesting and significant results investigating 29 anomalies in 3 lakes in 3 counties. MHM identified 11 wrecks, 3 maritime sites or objects, 2 other sites, and 1 otherobject in Lake Waconia, Lake Pulaski, and Prior Lake. Of the 11 wrecks, MHM acquired Minnesota Archaeological Site Numbers for 3 of them; 2 in Prior Lake and 1 in Lake Pulaski. Two of these wrecks are small wooden boats, similar in construction and design to 15 wrecks identified by MHM in Lake Minnetonka. Also, the Glasspar G-3 Ski boat Wreck, Fiberglass Hydroplane Wreck, Royal American Surfmaster 15 Wreck, and the Capsized Starcraft Wreck are the first of their manufacture to be identified on the bottom of any Minnesota lake. Additionally, visibility was much better in Lake Waconia and Lower Prior Lake than was anticipated, so the product output exceeded expectations due to water clarity - better video was produced and wreck attributes could be seen very clearly. As more data is accumulated and additional nautical archaeological sites identified and analyzed, to date submerged cultural resources from 9 suburban lakes can be compared and contrasted. Attributes noted in certain wrecks may be indicative of a particular boat builder or at least assigned to a particular type or time period. Further, to date MHM has identified 4 pontoon boat wrecks in 3 lakes; of these sites, 3 of them are capsized (Lake Pulaski, Lake Minnetonka) and 1 is upright (Lake Waconia). The wrecks and sites identified by MHM during the project represent the first submerged cultural resources recognized archaeologically in these particular bodies of water. The work completed during this project proves multi-lake diving projects are feasible and can be very successful. MHM continues to re-examine recorded sonar footage from completed remote sensing surveys. Targeted re-scanning has occurred in several lakes using knowledge gained from the comparison of anomalies that have proven to be wrecks or other submerged cultural resources in past projects. With improved technology, future scanning projects will produce clearer data. The results of the MSLNA-AA Project summarized above is connected to all the work that came before and will come after its completion. At this point, watercraft located in Minnesota's suburban lakes represent nearly 1,000 years of Minnesota's maritime history and nautical archaeology. In the historic period, the known wrecks represented in these lakes span over 140 years of local maritime culture. It is clear even through this Phase 1 pre-disturbance nautical archaeological investigation that the types of sites that exist in Minnesota's suburban lakes documented to date are diverse, archaeologically and historically significant, and worthy of great attention now and well into the future. Additionally, MHM's vetting of volunteer divers choosing only ethical, responsible people who understand our Mission to locate, document, preserve, and conserve Minnesota's finite submerged cultural resources within a not-for-profit paradigm led to a productive and honest working environment in the field. Fundamentally, MHM conducted sound nautical and maritime archaeology based on meaningful research plans created because of decades of underwater archaeological experience, strong maritime historical research that produced trustworthy data for analysis and future use, and we chose a group of trustworthy volunteers to assist us with the fulfillment of this project's goals.

Source of Additional Funds

Available upon request. Contact grants@mnhs.org

Recipient Board Members
Michael F. Kramer, Deb Handschin, Steve Hack
Project Overview

To conduct a marine archaeology anomaly assessment of several suburban lakes.

Project Manager
First Name
Last Name
Organization Name
Maritime Heritage Minnesota
Street Address
1214 Saint Paul Avenue
St. Paul
Zip Code