Photo from NWI Times

You have probably seen, or seen pictures of, the giant metal propeller located at Indiana Dunes State Park. Did you know that it is from a sunken ship located in the bottom of Lake Michigan, that is also the first underwater nature preserve in Indiana? Now you do! 

The JD Marshall was a carrier ship with a purpose of transporting goods such as lumber and sand to and from the Chicago area and Indiana. In June of 1911, the JD Marshall flipped upside down due to an issue with the ship in midst of a storm while on Lake Michigan. This cruel fate resulted in the death of four crewmen as well as an un-savable ship landing on the bottom of the lake just off the shore. The ship laid there until the 1980s when a group of salvagers were caught by the Coast Guard as they were trying to raise the ship from the water. Sadly, the ship did lose some pieces due to salvagers causing the curve of the hull to flatten into the sand. But no worries, it is still intact and visible.

On September 17, 2013, The JD Marshall becoming a nature preserve was, drumroll please…approved by the National Reserve Commission! Some of you may be wondering what constitutes a sunken ship becoming a nature preserve? According to the Department of Natural Resources, nature preserves can be established to promote understanding and appreciation of cultural values by the people in Indiana. This ship is a piece of history that tells us about earlier life on the Great Lakes. As a nature preserve, it will be there for many years to come and be available for many others to study it.  

This shipwreck is one of around 50 within Indiana’s 241 square miles of Lake Michigan. Only 14 of these have been documented by archaeologists. If you want to know more information about the JD Marshall, head out to the Indiana Dunes State Park Nature Center where they have information and artifacts on display for everyone to see! 

Want to see the ship? Click here to see a 3D view of the underwater shipwreck. How neat!