Many archaeological sites lie undiscovered on the bottom of Minnesota lakes, according to Ann Merriman and Christopher Olson, co-founders of the nonprofit Maritime Heritage Minnesota. The husband-and-wife team from St. Paul scuba dives to identify wrecks in places like Lake Minnetonka, Crystal Lake and the Mississippi River.
With the help of volunteer divers, they’ve studied wrecks and artifacts that include dugout canoes, passenger steamboats, a chamber pot from a burned hotel, a homemade hydroplane and a surprising number of old cars. They monitor the USS Essex, a historic wooden Navy sailing ship that was decommissioned and sunk in Duluth. And they nominate wrecks to the National Register of Historic Places, including a barge in Wayzata Bay likely operated by James J. Hill. The couple has identified 151 Minnesota wrecks to-date, and they are still looking for more. KFAI’s Michelle Bruch spoke with Ann and Chris about exploring Minnesota history by scuba diving.