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National Register of Historic Places Program

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources.


Property Name Australasia Shipwreck (Wooden Bulk Carrier)
Reference Number 13000466
State Wisconsin
County Door
Town Sevastopol
Street Address 820 feet southeast of Whitefish Dunes State Park in Lake Michigan
Multiple Property Submission Name Great Lakes Shipwrecks of Wisconsin
Status Listed 7/3/2013
Link to full file
The remains of the wooden bulk carrier Australasia lie in 15 to 20 feet of water off Whitefish Dunes State Park in Lake Michigan, mostly buried beneath a sand bottom. Built in 1884 by the well-known shipbuilder Captain James Davidson in West Bay City, Michigan, the 285-foot long Australasia was the largest wooden vessel ever built at the time of her launch. During her twelve year career, the Australasia carried bulk cargoes across the Great Lakes so efficiently she earned a fortune for her owners at a time when wooden vessels were quickly becoming obsolete. The Australasia embodies the industrial revolution on the Great Lakes, an era when maximizing profits drove technological innovations and pushed the accepted limits of wooden hulls. The Australasia meets the registration requirements of criterion D of the property type bulk freighter as described in the Multiple Property Documentation Great Lakes Shipwrecks of Wisconsin (Cooper and Kriesa 1992). The Great Lakes wooden steam bulk cargo vessel Australasia, a work of an acknowledged master shipbuilder, has yielded important information on nineteenth-century wood bulk carrier construction. As much of the site remains buried, it holds the potential to yield significantly more information as different hull sections may be uncovered and is therefore eligible at the state level under Criterion D. The period of significance begins with the date of construction in 1884 and ends with the Australasia's loss in 1896.


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Properties are listed in the National Register of Historic Places under four criteria: A, B, C, and D. For information on what these criterion are and how they are applied, please see our Bulletin on How to Apply the National Register Criteria