Ohio's Oldest Shipwreck Could Soon be on National List

The ship, which was first known as the Genera /l Wayne [Great Lakes Historical Society]
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Ohio’s oldest shipwreck could be joining the National Register of Historic Places.  Recommended by the state’s historic preservation board this month, the Anthony Wayne would be the first shipwreck in Ohio waters to receive the designation.

In 1850, the Anthony Wayne, a steamer, sank after an explosion, killing all its passengers.  The ship sank about 7 miles northwest of Vermillion, west of Cleveland.  “These types of vessels in particular were critical for moving immigrants west, for moving product, particularly kegs of alcohol from places like Toledo and Sandusky back to Buffalo where they could be transported along the Erie Canal back to the eastern seaboard,” explains Chris Gillcrist, executive director of National Museum of the Great Lakes.

The ship was discovered, but kept secret by divers who believed there was gold on board.  It was publicly discovered by the Cleveland Underwater Explorers just 10 years ago.

Gillcrist says the historic place label is a reminder of Ohio’s place in the country’s maritime history.

“The Great Lakes were the super highway of the 19th century for moving people and product across the United States,” says Gillcrist.  “This boat was part of that culture, part of that business model.”

The Anthony Wayne wouldn’t be the first Great Lakes shipwreck on the list, but it’d be the first for Ohio.

The Department of the Interior now has 90 days to agree or disagree with the distinction before it can be added to the National Register. 

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