Two Rivers area shipwrecks explored

The University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute’s R/V Dawn Treader is mostly full of scuba-diving equipment with two maritime archeologists and three volunteer divers from Madison squished in between. They came to Manitowoc County to survey the S.C. Baldwin shipwreck, a requirement to add the vessel to the state, and eventually national, Register of Historic Places.

“(Shipwrecks) are literal time capsules, a snapshot of what was going on at that specific moment in time,” volunteer diver Matt Schultz said.

Lake Michigan shipwreck

Lake Michigan shipwreck

Built in 1871, the Baldwin is believed to be the first double-decker steamer on the Great Lakes and carried iron ore from Escanaba, Michigan, to Milwaukee. It was later converted into a barge hauling coal, lumber and eventually stone.

The 160-foot-long vessel unknowingly left on its final voyage in 1908. Carrying 693 tons of stone, the barge was hit by strong winds and waves, according to the Wisconsin Historical Society. Nearing Kewaunee about midnight, the Baldwin sprung a leak and “turned turtle” at about 2:30 a.m. near Rawley Point lighthouse.

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