Monday, September 14, 2009


Isle Royale National Park, Michigan - Chisolm, a bulk freighter built of wood, was built in 1880 and ran aground in the predawn hours of October 20, 1898. Large sections of the wooden hull lie scattered among the Cumberland wreckage on a reef not marked by the Rock of Ages Lighthouse. This site features an intact steam enging with drive shaft and propeller sitting in about 140’ of water. The double expansion steam engine stands about 20 feet tall an
d is near perfect condition framed in ornate iron work. The engine has two pistons, one 30" and the other 56" in diameter, that operated with a four foot stroke. - Steve Martin, ISRO Picture of the Day.
Chisolm is my favorite site in the park. This massive expansive steam engine is difficult to describe it is so remarkable. The size is the first thing one marvels, but on closer examination the ornate designs crafted out of steel that surround the engine are the most remarkable. The craftsmanship involved to create such artistry in a location that no one will ever see is amazing to me. Once you rebound from the engine, one can swim along the perfectly intact prop shaft out to the propeller. Again, size is the prominent feature. Along the i
ntact stern you can observe the water marks cut into the wood in roman numeral are visible.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Emperor was a 525' steel bulk freighter carrying a load of iron ore. It was built in Canada in 1907, and met its demise in the early morning darkness of June 7, 1947. Principal blame was placed with the First Mate for not keeping "proper watch". This was further qualified, saying that the prevailing system, required him to be in charge of loading when he should have been off-duty resulted in his being overtired from lack of sleep. Out of this came the practice of today's Lake sailors, four hours on, eight hours off, four hours on, eight hours off.
This picture is of a large windlass, used to raise and lower the anchors, and Andres Diaz, an Archeologist with the NPS Submerged Resources Center. This image was taken in about 40-45' of water. -Steve Martin, ISRO Picture of the Day

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Glenlyon Mosaic

A major goal of this condition assessment is to build on work that was accomplished in the early ‘80s by the Submerged Resources Center and ISRO Dive team. As we apply the same archeological survey techniques used decades ago, we also have the benefit of underwater digital imaging technologies. In this photographer’s opinion, digital photography has been one of the most valuable advancements in underwater survey. The ability to generate hundreds of instantly available images vs. 36 pictures on traditional film has increased the data collection and documentation of these sites dramatically. One technique the SRC has used successfully over the past few years to enhance the interpretive value of shipwreck sites is by stitching several digital images together to create a mosaic. This process offers a view of a site unavailable even to the divers from one static viewpoint limited by visibility. It also has the ability to communicate the massive size and scale of these goliath vessels strewn across the reefs of Isle Royale.

In this mosaic of the Glenlyon shot three days ago, Steve Martin examines the shaft connecting the expansion engine with the broken prop resting on the reef in 45’ of water. This image was created by stitching 34 vertical images together and provides a panoramic viewpoint of the sites most impressive feature. - Brett Seymour, ISRO Picture of the Day

Monday, September 7, 2009


Glenlyon was a 328’ bulk freighter, built in 1893. It ran aground in the early morning hours of November 1. 1924 while seeking shelter in the Siskwit Bay from fall storms - Steve Martin, ISRO Picture of the Day

The Glenlyon is one of my favorite sites of Isle Royale. The machinery is massive and visually interesting. Its also a site were you can shoot a photograph that “looks” like a shipwreck. Anchors, windlass machinery and huge boilers all communicate shipwreck. Often times with the sites I image, especially the 18th and 19th century sites, its hard to find an iconic shot to communicate shipwreck. Archeologist may get excited about rigging piles and chain plates, but the general public like to recognize a shipwreck. The Glenlyon has no shortage of images to create.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Shipwrecks of Isle Royale

Isle Royale National Park, Michigan –Few location have stir the imagination like Isle Royale National Park. When I first started working with the NPS it was one of those places that held mythical status, much like the USS Arizona Memorial. The thought of all those shipwrecks in one location so well preserved in the cold dark waters of Lake Superior. I have had the opportunity to visit Isle Royale on two separate occations in the past three years. Each project only wetted my appitite to spend more bottom time imaging these massive vessels.

So, I am for two weeks with the federal mandate to conduct condition assments. Basically, this means an archeologist swims around the site and rates the condition of the site with the appropriate terminology and paperwork as poor, fair or good. In addition, they look for impacts, human or natural, and note those as well. What this means for me is bottom time! Hit as many sites as the weather will allow with the talent park dive team from Isle Royale on my absolute favorite dive boat in the NPS – the Lorelei.

Isle Royale Park Dive Officer Steve Martin came up with the great idea to provide the entire Isle Royale park staff with a picture of the day with a brief description of the operation each day. Since I ended generating some of the best shipwreck images I have ever shot, I thought it would be appropriate to post them here as well. I will include the blat that Steve offered up to the park staff regarding the project and perhaps interject some addional prose if appropriate. Enjoy the cold waters of Isle Royale Shipwrecks.