Early Vessels

Early Vessels (HM1384)

Location: Kenosha, WI 53140 Kenosha County
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Country: United States of America
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N 42° 35.181', W 87° 48.773'

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Wisconsin's Maritime Trails

Native American canoes launched America's maritime legacy about 12,000 years ago, making them among the world's oldest watercraft.

Ancient dugout canoes are occasionally preserved when environmental conditions are just right. The canoe above was submerged and waterlogged when it was discovered in 1996 by a twelve-year-old girl and her grandfather in Lake Mary, near Kenosha. They left their find submerged and reported it immediately, allowing Wisconsin Historical Society underwater archaeologists to carefully remove and conserve it. Preserving the dugout required a long process of replacing the water in the wood with a chemical solution that prevents collapse and decay. The 2,000 year old dugout is Wisconsin's oldest known watercraft.

Native American dugout and birchbark canoes were efficient and well-suited for traveling and gathering food along Wisconsin's lakes and rivers.

During the 1800s, Native Americans paddled large fleets of dugout and birchbark canoes along the Lake Michigan coastline. Once a year they headed to Chicago to receive treaty payments offered in exchange for their land and resources. As many as three hundred travelers would land their canoes on Simmon's Island, not far from here. In one account, Lake Michigan's unpredictable and dangerous weather stranded the boaters on the island for three weeks.
HM NumberHM1384
Series This marker is part of the Wisconsin: Wisconsin's Maritime Trails series
Placed ByWisconsin Historical Society and University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Friday, September 19th, 2014 at 3:02am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)16T E 433300 N 4715201
Decimal Degrees42.58635000, -87.81288333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 42° 35.181', W 87° 48.773'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds42° 35' 10.86" N, 87° 48' 46.38" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)262
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 5500 1st Ave, Kenosha WI 53140, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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