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State Submerged Resources > Indiana


One of the Great Lakes states, Indiana's shoreline with Lake Michigan is 40 miles long. All of the state's major rivers, including the Kankakee, Ohio, Tippecanoe, Wabash, and White rivers, are tributaries to the Mississippi River, while several smaller rivers feed into Lake Erie and Lake Michigan. Major lakes include Monroe Lake, an artificial reservoir, and Lake Wawasee, the state's largest natural lake. About 550 square miles of Indiana (less than 2% of the state) are covered by water with almost half that area in Lake Michigan.

What sites are underwater?

Based on archival and documentary research and preliminary survey work by the state, as many as 50 historic shipwreck sites may lie in the waters of Lake Michigan controlled by Indiana. The earliest known loss dates from 1857 and the greatest number of losses occurred between 1880 and 1920. Lost vessels include bulk and package freighters, passenger ships, and car ferries. Earlier small trading vessels also may exist. A few examples of shipwrecks in Indiana waters include the following:

Who takes care of Indiana's underwater archeological sites?

Responsibility for all archeological research and development programs for the state falls to the Indiana Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology in the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. The Indiana Department of Administration reserves control of historic sites, including abandoned shipwrecks that lie in state waters.

What permits do I need to study shipwrecks?

The state requires a permit for any removal, disturbance, salvage, or destruction of an abandoned shipwreck. Applicants must include an appropriate archeological plan and establish the professional qualifications of the principal investigator. In addition, for marine projects, the state mandates the principal investigator have two years of supervisory experience in underwater archeological techniques and research. The applicant must also establish that adequate facilities, equipment, personnel, and methods will be applied to catalog, clean, analyze, preserve and curate collections including their documentation.

What laws concern underwater archeology in Indiana?

You can find the state's archeology and waterways laws codified at Indiana Code 14-21-1, et seq. and 14-29-1-8. The relevant regulations are in Title 312 of the Indiana Administrative Code at Article 6 (navigable waters), Article 20 (historic preservation review board), and Article 21 (archaeological review and recovery). One of the goals of these laws is to protect abandoned shipwrecks in Indiana's waters for historical and recreational purposes.

Related Websites:

Indiana Historical Society
Association for Great Lakes Maritime History
Wabash River Heritage Corridor Commission