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About the photo (above):
Diver Ken Marshall near the rudderpost of the schooner Carlingford. This wreck sank in Lake Erie in 1881 after colliding with the wood steamer Brunswick. The ship lies in 95' (29 m) of water in Lake Erie off Dunkirk, NY. Photo taken in 2004 by Ann Stephenson.

Cleveland Underwater Explorers (CLUE)The Cleveland Underwater Explorers (CLUE) is a team of divers and historians who are dedicated to researching, locating, exploring, and documenting the shipwrecks and submerged history found on the bottom of the Great Lakes with an emphasis on Lake Erie. As the name suggests, it is based in Cleveland, Ohio, USA.

CLUE was founded by David VanZandt and co-founded by Kevin Magee in 2001. Chief Researcher Jim Paskert was added in 2004. In 2007 Tom Kowalczk was added as Researcher and Remote Sensing. These four members form the core of the organization, although several associate members are also involved. The team consists of individuals skilled in many areas required for underwater exploration.

  • Archival research
  • Great Lakes history
  • Great Lakes ship construction styles and techniques
  • Underwater search equipment and techniques
  • Underwater archaeological survey techniques
  • Mechanical and electrical engineering
  • Recreational and technical scuba diving

The group has been searching and finding shipwrecks since its formation. The first shipwreck was found off Barcelona, New York, on August 1, 2001, by assisting Osprey Charters operator Jim Herbert on his boat Southwind in locating an unknown wood barge dubbed Barge F in 145' of water. It had been scanned in the early 1980's by searcher Garry Kozak during his long search for the supposed treasure ship Dean Richmond. However, it had never been re-located or explored. On Sunday, August 5, 2001, it was dove for the first time and discovered to be a virgin wreck. This is considered the first wreck found by CLUE, but it has remained unidentified.

Another wreck located and publicized by CLUE includes an unidentified scuttled wooden tug dubbed the 117th Street Tug, which was found off Lakewood, Ohio, in 45' of water. It was found on October 1, 2002, and first dove on June 14, 2003. There is also an unidentified, highly broken wood wreck dubbed the CSU Wreck, off Cleveland, Ohio, in 45' of water. It was found on October 11, 2004, and first dove on May 22, 2005.

In 2005 the famous shipwreck of the barkentine Cortland was finally located by CLUE off Lorain, Ohio, in 60' of water. It was found on July 30, 2005, and first dove on July 31. It was located almost solely due to the efforts of CLUE researcher Jim Paskert. This wreck sank in a collision with the side paddlewheel steamer Morning Star on June 20, 1868. Both ships sank with a great loss of life, and the event was widely reported by the press of the time. The Morning Star was located by modern divers in 1980, but the Cortland was never located and was widely sought. This wreck represents not only the final missing piece of this tragic story but is also an early example of the large sailing vessels that would later become commonplace on the Great Lakes in the bulk cargo trade. The discovery of the Cortland made national press after front-page publication by the Cleveland newspaper The Plain Dealer.

Finally, the famous sidewheel steamboat Anthony Wayne was located in 50 of water off Vermilion, Ohio, by Tom Kowalczk of CLUE in the fall of 2006. It was first dove by CLUE on May 20, 2007. This famous ship sank on April 28, 1850, when one of its high-pressure boilers blew up. The disaster resulted in one of the most significant losses of life in early steamboat history, estimated at 38 passengers and crew. The Anthony Wayne is believed to be the oldest steamboat shipwreck in Lake Erie. The discovery of this historic shipwreck was carried in newspapers and news outlets all over the world.

CLUE recently obtained its non-profit corporation status in 2006 and has formed a close working relationship with the Great Lakes Historical Society (GLHS), based in Vermilion, Ohio. Since 2006 CLUE has been sponsored by GLHS. CLUE has also assisted the Maritime Archaeological Survey Team (MAST), a group of volunteer enthusiasts who are performing archaeological surveys of Ohio's shipwrecks. In the 2004 season CLUE assisted MAST by obtaining sidescan images of the Craftsman barge and crane to help prepare a site plan and to locate all objects in the debris field. During the 2005 season CLUE performed the same service for the schooner-barge Dundee. During the 2007 season CLUE provided sidescan imagery of the schooner Ivanhoe and the wood steamer Sarah Sheldon, both slated for survey by MAST.

CLUE continues to search for more shipwrecks in Lake Erie based on research by the group. Please visit the CLUE web site at the following address.