The Indiana Department of Resources will be dedicating the state's first ever nature preserve at a shipwreck site 11 a.m. Monday, September 30th at the Indiana Dunes State Park. Ginger Murphy, Director for Stewardship, Indiana State Parks and Reservoirs says, "We're going to talk a little about the history of theJ.D. Marshall, we will have some comments from our Department of natural Resources Director Stan Clark. and then we are also going to honor the men who dies as a result of the shipwreck."
Murphy says a program illustrating the shipwrecks on Lake Michigan will also be given by the park's Interpreaive Naturalist, Brad Bumgarder. She adds that refreshments will also be served. The dedication ceremony will be held at the historic beach pavilion at the Indiana Dunes State Park.
According to a press release from the DNR, the J.D. Marshall Nature Preserve in Porter County is 100 acres in Lake Michigan, 600 yards offshore from the park. The J.D. Marshall, a 154-foot long, steam-powered sand barge built in 1891, sank in a storm on June 11, 1911. Four crew members died and seven survived.
Nature preserve status aims at help promote public understanding and appreciation of the J.D. Marshall and Indiana shipwrecks in general. The status also offers new protections to the site in addition to existing protections offered under Indiana’s archaeological laws.
Fishing is permitted in the preserve by canoe, kayak or any boat with a draft less than 8 feet. Anchoring in the preserve is prohibited. Mooring buoys will be provided for dive and fishing boats to tie off.
Preserve boundaries will be identified by seasonally placed buoys. NOAA nautical charts will be updated to show the preserve.
J.D. Marshall information and artifacts are available at the Indiana Dunes State Park Nature Center. The park also offers regular educational programs on shipwrecks in Lake Michigan.
The whereabouts of 14 shipwreck sites in Indiana’s portion of Lake Michigan are known and have been documented by archaeologists. Many more ships sank in Indiana’s 241 square miles, but most underwater wreckage has been swallowed by sand or flattened by waves and ice.
(J.D. Marshall: photo courtesy of DNR Division of Historic Preservation)