Time Stands Still

Countless wrecks scatter the bottoms of our Great Lakes, and from these many sunken treasures have made their way to the shelves of the Detroit Historical Society’s Collection’s Resource Center.  The Alvin Clark was a small commercial sailing ship lost in Green Bay in 1864.  One hundred and three years later she happened to snag the nets of some local fishermen.  Frank Hoffman, a scuba diver, initially recruited to merely recover the nets, went on to spend the next several seasons sifting through the mysterious silt-filled wreck that he discovered below.  This effort culminated in the raising of the Alvin Clark in 1969.  The Clark’s wooden hull was so well persevered below the waters of Lake Michigan that she was still able to float, making her, at that point, the oldest ship in the world still able to do so.  Unfortunately her new location, on display in Menominee, Michigan was not as kind to her, and upon being exposed to the air she began to rot, an agonizing process finally halted with her bulldozing in 1994.  Because the amazing recovery of the Alvin Clark ended in disaster, modern maritime archeological methods maintain that wrecks should be kept in place, underwater for their preservation.  This clockwork movement recovered from the Clark provides a rare glimpse into the lives of 19th century sailors and the tolls the lakes and—of course—time have taken on the wreck.

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