This presentation is part of the Proceedings of the Maritime Cultural Landscape Symposium, October 14-15, 2015, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Jimmy Moore: I would like to introduce Daina who is the Deputy Wisconsin State Historic Preservation Officer.
Daina Penkiunas: Hi I’m Daina Penkiunas and I’m the Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer here in Wisconsin. My presentation will definitely show some of the influence of the State Historic Preservation office. I was for fifteen years the National Register coordinator and I’m an architectural historian by training, so you’ll see some of that perspective here. I know there will be other Wisconsin presentations, which will broaden the perspectives of looking at Wisconsin, but I think this symposium is an opportunity for all of us and especially here for us to look at those broader perspectives, and maybe change the way or expand the way that we think about the state’s resources. Okay thank you. This one, go back to. Okay.
So, what do people think of when they think of Wisconsin, right? If you’re here on a weekend or on a Monday night it’s the packers, right? Cheese, beer, packers, cows. That’s what most people think of when they think of Wisconsin. But if you look back at our state seal and our state flag, which has the state seal on it, you can see that there’s a great deal more of Wisconsin’s history laid out for you here. And so we see on the right the miner, we don’t really think of perhaps Wisconsin as a mining state, but part of our history. And then on the left, who’s the other important person? The mariner. The sailor. These are our two individuals, prototypical individuals who are featured on our state’s seal. And it’s not just the individuals, we also have, as you can see, an anchor and the hammer there is actually pointed out to be with our underwater archaeological staff that is the caulking mallet used for ships. So again, very strong maritime influence on our state’s history.
So, if we are to look at sort of the location of Wisconsin, for those of you who flew in perhaps or not as familiar with this part of the country. We are… Yeah this doesn’t… Yeah it’s hard to see. Michigan is there in the middle, so Michigan is that mitten and we are the other mitten to the left there. There we can see where we are in the national geography. Looking at… and again this is unfortunate our maps seem to be disappearing on the screen here. If we are to look back, I’ll just go back here. Something that Jim pointed out in his presentation is actually how much coastal or waterway boundary we have in Wisconsin. We have somewhere between 800 and 820 miles of Great Lakes coastline and 200 miles of Mississippi shoreline. We’re talking over 1,000 miles of our boundaries are defined by waterways. That puts us in the top 20 for the country for the amount of coastline that we have.
So as we look at evaluating resources, you know we have sort of the traditional what we think of those maritime resources as lighthouses are… many of them are listed. We’re still looking at listings of others, working with the Coast Guard as they’re transitioning into private ownership, but we have close to fifty lighthouses within our inventory, so it’s a pretty substantial body of resources in the state.
We also have shipwrecks, lots and lots of shipwrecks. We know that there are over 700 ships that were lost in Wisconsin waters. Of those, 178 have been identified and we have listed 59 in the National Register, but those are the easy ones.
So one of the questions we have to ask ourselves as we look at these issues of that sort of broader maritime landscape, are the challenges of dealing with the changing broader landscape, and both how we interpret that and also the issues of National Register evaluation. Here’s a view of the city of Ashland, which is on Lake Superior, northern Wisconsin, this is from 1885 and you can see that great inscription”The Metropolis of the New Wisconsin.” So, you can see the forest is still there, the great woods. Then this emerging city based on a maritime commerce, and the scale of it was huge. So here we see the ore docks in Ashland and actually you can see here… those are actually railroad lines that are going on the ore docks and entire train cars would come there and dump the Ore into the waiting vessels.
But what’s happened to these? These are actively being dismantled, demolished as we speak. Great hulks of construction that are seen to be a danger no longer in use, and so that is disappearing. Actually if we look at that historic view and what is there now in the Ashland shoreline we have a big park, right? All of that in a sense, maritime history, has… that physical manifestation of it has disappeared from Ashland. It’s not just true on the Great Lakes, it’s also true on our rivers. This is the city of La Crosse on the Mississippi River, and you can see this was also a huge rail and shipping location. Lots of passenger traffic here. Here in this postcard view, we can see some of those river boats that have come up to La Crosse. Great deal of passenger and trade traffic. But again, in a place like this with the exception of some of those warehouses that were there, what do we have? Wonderful walkway along the river. It also expresses that changing mentality of how people think of waterways these days. And while boats do come up and down the Mississippi, a lot of them are tourism based versus commerce based.
Not only true in the larger communities, there’s also the change in rural locations as we have that change in commerce and focus of economies. This is Jackson Port in Door County. This is actually… the submerged portions of this are listed in the National Register as a historic district, the shipwrecks and the piers that remain. This was a huge lumber center, so up there, kind of Door County on that thumb of our glove there in Wisconsin, and this was an entire water based transportation system, very few roads. The railroads didn’t show up until the 1920s, so all of that maritime commerce, everything came in and went out by water. Even by the, you know, the early to mid 20th century everything is disappearing there because of the changing commercial aspects of that community. Here we see those piers slowly sinking into decline, and today again, that picture on the right where there was once a thriving lumber based economy is now a park. People come there for vacations, for tourism.
But, one of the other issues there as well is we can see… here’s one… Our underwater archeologists Caitlyn Sands and that is a picture of her there, looking at actually the changing shorelines are actually bringing back some of our resources. They’re becoming more visible as time goes on. So again, changing economy, changing landscape.
We do still have major shipping ports in Wisconsin, so Milwaukee, Superior, Green Bay .. still a lot of shipping happening there. Even in those communities, there’s definitely that change in the focus of the waterways and how people think about the water these days. So this is in Milwaukee. You can see the two historic views and the one today. All of those former warehouses and industrial buildings, what are they today? They’re condos and everybody wants a balcony overlooking the river. Very, very different perspective than what existed there a hundred years ago.
So just in conclusion, I can say in our office and among staff, we’re comfortable with the evaluation of resources such as shipwrecks, lighthouses, buildings, and the like. This is really been our focus. This is a wonderful set of photos of the EMBA or E-M-B-A, which was built in 1890 and changed into a self-unloader in 1923, which was scuttled off the coast of Milwaukee. As we know, we list these on a regular basis. We investigate them, evaluate them, but our response to that disappearing landscape is really one of a maritime trails program. Telling the history of the educational perspective, so our questions really have to do with new ways of looking, evaluating, and interpreting our maritime landscapes. That’s really what we hope to come away from over this two day symposium.
Thank you very much.