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Thunder Bay sanctuary seeks federal historic status

Mich. site off Lake Huron is home to 4 shipwrecks

ALPENA, Mich. — The Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Michigan’s northeastern Lower Peninsula is seeking federal historic status for four shipwrecks.

The Pewabic, Kyle Spangler, M.F. Merrick, and Etruria have been nominated for the National Register of Historic Places.

Officials say there are few shipwrecks on the register, and achieving the status would give the sites additional protection against theft and damage, and could open up funding possibilities.

“Being on the [register] will help increase protection for these sites, along with bringing them into the national spotlight. There is an amazing collection of wrecks in Thunder Bay, and these four will highlight some of that collection,” Phil Hartmeyer, who wrote the nomination for the Pewabic, told the Alpena News.

“Between the four ships, the time spans over 100 years.”

Officials said most of the wrecks are comparatively complete.

The Pewabic was damaged through salvage operations but it’s significant for many reasons, including the large loss of life — about 125 deaths stem from its collision with its sister ship, the Meteor.

The submissions will be reviewed by the State Historic Preservation Office, which would then submit chosen sites to the National Park Service.

The Alpena facility is among 14 national sanctuaries operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the only one in fresh water.

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