This document is part of the Proceedings of the Maritime Cultural Landscape Symposium, October 14-15, 2015, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Paul Loether
Chief, National Register and National Historic Landmarks Program

I am Paul Loether and, just to give you a little background, before I started this job about seven years ago, I was the Director of Culture for the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism. That was an amalgam that was put together from the old historical commission, the arts commission, and the office of tourism. My portfolio included the State Historic Preservation Office, which is what I had come up through. Prior to that, I worked with both local and regional non-profit preservation organizations.

I am going to spend most of my presentation discussing some maritime cultural landscapes. What I would like to try to do is give a sense of those kinds the National Register Program considers maritime cultural landscapes–provide a little bit of the philosophy behind our perspective as to what maritime landscapes are and are not. I want to be clear upfront that, at least currently, maritime cultural landscapes are not a National Register property type. They are an area of specific significance usually contextual in framework.

I have very much considered the philosophy of what we are trying to do at the Register with maritime landscapes in particular, and cultural landscapes in general. The definition provided in this slide is specific to cultural landscapes; it actually mostly came from, oddly enough, Wikipedia. I like the philosophy behind this definition (even though I question the syntax of the English) just because it identifies what we are trying to get to as we work with cultural landscapes in particular, and especially maritime cultural landscapes.

So, in essence, what is the difference between a cultural landscape and a maritime landscape? I was putting together a care package for my daughter at the College of Wooster, doing shopping at a Giant supermarket, and came across a box of Swiss Miss Cocoa Mix–the difference between a cultural landscape and a maritime cultural landscape?  Just add water. That is a simplistic approach, but essentially that is what we are talking about here.

Figure 1. The Thimble Islands, Branford Connecticut

I am going to start by going through a number of images to illustrate the point. Some of the properties here are listed in the National Register. Some probably would be eligible for the Register. This is Branford, Connecticut. It is the Thimble Islands (Fig. 1).I wrote this nomination, I think, in the mid-’80s. At the time that we did this, nobody was really speaking about cultural landscapes per se within the context of the Register. This was a large historic district.

Figure 2. Thimble Islands from the northeast with Stony Creek in the background.

It’s a district that’s composed of a large group of small islands off the coast of Connecticut, as well as a small village called Stony Creek. This is looking toward the northeast (Fig. 2).  It does not include all the islands, but it includes the bulk of them. At the very top of the image, you may be able to see a small point of land, and that is actually the village of Stony Creek. This village started out as a fishing village and developed, post-Civil War based on the railroad that ran from nearby New York City, as a late 19th-century resort community–not for the very wealthy, but for the upper middle class, mostly coming out of New York and some of the smaller Connecticut cities in between. Clearly, I think that there is no question about the maritime context here, even though it is not a commercial context per se. There is still some commercial fishing in this area, but as I noted previously, it is mostly a resort community developed back in the late 19th through the early 20th century.

Figure 3. Pink granite piers at Stony Creek

I picked this next image of Stony Creek (Fig. 3), not so much for the buildings; if you look at the piers, they’re made of pink granite. Stony Creek is very famous for its pink granite. It was used in the base of the Statue of Liberty, as well as buildings throughout the eastern seaboard, as construction material. One of the problems I had when I was doing this district is there are literally hundreds and hundreds of these bulkheads, walls, and piers, and trying to distinguish through a count on a one-by-one basis was very difficult. I had a conversation back in 1985 when I wrote the nomination with Beth Savage at the Register; we talked about how they clearly contribute to the overall character of the area, and even if you can’t enumerate them, they needed to be mentioned. I think the concept of landscape here comes in very strongly. That is really what we were trying to say: that they are part of the overall maritime cultural landscape of this community, and a very significant part, even if they are not specifically enumerated in a count of contributing structures. The quarry they came from is part of the district (Fig. 4). The quarry is, I believe, still active, in terms of providing pink granite for construction. The water there is not the ocean. That is just an infill from the hole based on flow of water on the land and from rain.

Figure 4. Granite quarry

I’m going to move now a little bit to the northeast, to what we call “Cape Cod and the Islands” of Massachusetts. That is the area in the slide outlined in red and filled with yellow (Fig. 5). The land mass at the top of Figure 6 is Cape Cod itself.  To the lower left, you’ll see a string of islands. Those are the Cape Elizabeth Islands.

Figure 5.Cape Cod

Just below those islands in the island of Martha’s Vineyard–in the lower left corner; the island of Nantucket is on the lower right of the slide. In the middle of all of it is huge “maritime” (basically and inland sea) area known as Nantucket Sound. Over the course of the post-contact history of the northeast, this area as a whole has been commercial; today it is a major resort area. Nantucket, of course, is particularly famous for its nineteenth century whaling industry; all of this area, then, has a long-established historical tradition, and there are historic properties everywhere.

Figure 6. Cape Cod and Elizabeth Islands

I am going to start my review of this area with Cape Cod itself. The Port of Hyannis (Fig. 7) has a significant historic district that is associated with its downtown and its waterfront. One of the things that is difficult with maritime landscapes is where does the maritime start and where does it end? For the most part, these communities as a whole, especially historic areas, clearly do relate directly with the water, even though all of its resources are not on the waterfront. One of the issues we face in nominating such landscapes is how far back in time do we go?

Figure 7. Port of Hyannis

This next image provides a view that is actually a little bit further to the west of the Hyannisport harbor area. This is the Kennedy compound, another historic area (NHL) which includes not just the Kennedy family houses, but those of others related to them (Fig. 8). Again, this is part of the resort characteristic of it we find throughout the area. Very much maritime related. I think most of you who grew up when I did can probably remember the pictures of John F. Kennedy, not only talking with senior statesmen, but also sailing, fishing and engaged in other maritime recreational activities at this particular property.

Figure 8. The Kennedy Compound at Hyannisport

The island of Martha’s Vineyard in Figure 9 is another area that started out primarily as fishing, commercial, and farming. Again, how far inland you go before you lose the maritime character visually depends on where you are located, but essentially the island as a whole is a maritime community, and all of the historic resources have some kind of relationship with the water that surrounds it, particularly these days with the resort community.

Edgartown harbor, one of the Vineyard’s older settlement areas. Again, an historic area that started out based on commercial fishing that now is predominantly recreational. They have fishing, but it is limited to modest commercial and people doing deep sea fishing off the coast, or engaged in whale watching. Again, a very strong relationship with the built environment and with the water itself.

Figure 9. Martha’s Vineyard

Figure 10. Edgartown Harbor.

Menemsha (Fig. 11) is a very small fishing village on Martha’s Vineyard that still functions as such. It is not listed on the National Register individually, but ought to be. Again, it shows a very direct relationship between water and people and livelihoods. Part of the island is more recreational in character – an area not far removed from the actual waterfront—part of the campground on Martha’s Vineyard (Oak Bluffs), a 19th-century Methodist meeting place (Fig. 12).  The vineyard itself is full of resort areas like this. Again, I say “resort;” it was a place that people went, even in the nineteenth century, to get away from the world and in this case, initially at least, for religious purposes.

Figure 11. Menemsha

Nantucket Island is another one of the islands that’s major in the northeast (Fig. 13). Nantucket itself in its entirety is a National Historic Landmark. It’s probably the largest single National Historic Landmark we have. It’s big enough so when you get inland, you can’t see the water anymore, but there is always this sense and this aura of its relationship to the sea. As I’ve noted, Nantucket, of course, was a prime area in terms of whaling in the 19th century. That’s how it started. We later modified the nomination to acknowledge the resort community as part of the NHL, and again… it’s all water related.

Figure 12. Oak Bluffs area

Below is a recent shot of the harbor in Nantucket, which still mixes some commercial activities with more recreational ones (Fig 14). To the right a shot of what are called the Three Bricks, or the Starbuck Houses (Fig. 15). These are three of the whaling captain’s houses, in this case all of them members of the same family. They dominate the northern end of the village just off Main Street. Again, they are related to the whaling economy. And while these three houses are not directly on the waterfront, they clearly form part and parcel of the community in terms of its maritime character.

Figure 16 of the sunset shows the beauty in one of the smaller accretions to the downtown area of Nantucket.

Figure 13. Nantucket Island

A number of years ago, the National Register Program became involved in a project called “Cape Wind.” Cape Wind primarily involved a determination of eligibility request for Nantucket Sound, though we also looked at the project’s impact on the Kennedy compound and the island of Nantucket (both NHLs). One of the things that really came to the fore in Cape Wind was the Wampanoag Tribes’ claim that this area, particularly Nantucket Sound in its entirety, was a traditional cultural property. We had the good fortune to engage in what was essentially a government-to-government consultation with both tribes involved–the Wampanoags of Gay Head and the Mashpee Wampanoags–which are the surviving branches of two federally recognized area tribes. We had an opportunity to work with them and learn “first hand” about the historic significance they ascribed to this area.

Figure 14. Nantucket Harbor

All of the little sites that are plotted as small red dots on this map relate to the traditional cultural property aspects of this area with the tribes. What we saw when we mapped them–and again, this map does not include any archaeological sites per se, and there are many, many in this area as a whole–these are just some of the sites significant as TCPs that we talked about when we were there. When one looks at this map, it helps one to understand the nature of the resources they are talking about; it becomes very clear that what the tribe recognizes is an indigenous cultural landscape with many, many resources that relate to their traditions. Many of these resources are “not built.” They are belief-driven. And as we plotted this, the visual representation resulted in an epiphany that that’s what we were looking at—a large cultural landscape.

Figure 15. Starbuck’s Houses/Captain’s houses

Just to give you a sense what we learned from our consultation: the pink area to the right on this map is where their cultural hero Moshup and his wife Squannit supposedly came from in the very dim past (Fig. 17). When Moshup moved, the path is roughly the red line. Tradition holds that the body of water between the Cape Elizabeth Islands, which is the small string above Martha’s Vineyard, and Martha’s Vineyard itself, is a channel created by Moshup dragging his toe through the water. Nantucket, in their tradition, was also created by Moshup. For those of you who do not know the area, it gets very foggy, gets very misty, and the tradition is that the fog was caused by Moshup smoking his pipe, and then one day his pipe burned out, so he turned it over and then created Nantucket.

Figure 16. Sunset over Nantucket.

All of the little sites that are plotted as small red dots on this map relate to the traditional cultural property aspects of this area with the tribes. What we saw when we mapped them–and again, this map does not include any archaeological sites per se, and there are many, many in this area as a whole–these are just some of the sites significant as TCPs that we talked about when we were there. When one looks at this map, it helps one to understand the nature of the resources they are talking about; it becomes very clear that what the tribe recognizes is an indigenous cultural landscape with many, many resources that relate to their traditions. Many of these resources are “not built.” They are belief-driven. And as we plotted this, the visual representation resulted in an epiphany that that’s what we were looking at—a large cultural landscape.

Figure 17. Map of area inhabited by Moshup and Squannit

This next image provides a great view of Gay Head, which is a National Natural Landmark (Fig. 18). It is on the southwestern end of Martha’s Vineyard. It is the point central for the Wampanoag tribe of Gay Head. Gay Head, traditionally, is where Moshup settled when he finally made that movement off of Cape Cod and down into Martha’s Vineyard. If you look at the landscape, you’ll see streaks of red and streaks of black. The red is where Moshup, after he fished and caught his whales, killed them. The black traditionally is where he cooked them. There’s a strong, strong relationship with the tribe in terms of belief, significance, symbolism, and cultural history tied to this site. This is one of many. All those knots that you saw on the previous screen are similar in some function, some being ceremonial only.

Figure 18. Gay Head with streaks of red and black

The center of the seal of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head Aquinnah depicts Moshup standing in front of Gay Head with his whale. It gives you a sense that for indigenous landscapes, significance often does not require built things. It is very often mostly belief driven. Significance that is ascribed to places is often important to recognizing a culture landscape. And in the case of Nantucket Sound and Cape Cod and the Inlands… it is very much a maritime landscape.

Figure 19. The seal of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head Aquinnah.

One of the most significant aspects of this is reflected in Nantucket Sound itself, which the Keeper determined in 2010 to be significant as a Traditional Cultural Property within the context of the larger Cape Cod and the Islands Historic District; this is because of the Sound’s importance ceremonially to the tribe at the junction of the sky, the sun, and the water at dawn.

Figure 20.

Wampanoag, roughly translated, means, “people of the dawn,” and that’s a responsibility that both tribes take on, not only for their own people, but also as representatives of tribes across the nation. While you may see a channel marker in this picture (Fig. 20), beyond that, really what you see is entirely natural. It is the belief-based association with the very natural maritime landscape that makes Nantucket significant for the tribes. People may ask, how is it a “landscape? It’s really all water?” For the purposes of eligibility for the Register, landscapes often include bodies water, large or small—some call them (informally) “riverscapes, lakescapes,” or” seascapes”—a cultural landscape can include anything that has to do with a broad natural expanse with natural features that may relate historically to a group or groups of people, including water.

Figure 21. Provincetown sandbar

Let me now take you a little further “out” to Provincetown, Mass (Fig. 21). It’s on the tip of Cape Cod. There’s a group of 18 shacks out in Provincetown, on what is essentially a big sandbar. They’re called the Dune Shacks. I mentioned when I spoke about Stony Creek and the Thimble Islands in Branford, Connecticut, that in the 1980s, most preservationists never really talked much about the idea of a cultural landscape, much less a maritime cultural landscape. For the Dune Shacks of the Peak Hill Bars Historic District in Provincetown, which was recently listed in the National Register (within my tenure), we encouraged the nomination to specifically indicate that the district is a very significant cultural landscape.

Figure 22. Dune shacks

We didn’t specify a “maritime” landscape, but I will let you be the judge. In this case, the land itself is really not much more than a big sandbar.  Figure 22 should give you an additional sense of some of the shacks that are out there. They are all generally pastiched together by the people that built them. They change over time. The favorite location for building materials for most of these shacks in the early 20th century was the town dump. Today, very often, people will go and get parts and pieces at Lowe’s and Home Depot to keep them patched together as necessary. The shacks get hauled around sometimes. The landscape–the dunes themselves–change with winds, water action, hurricanes. It is a very, very dynamic maritime cultural landscape.

Figure 23. Sandbar with a dune shack

Figure 23 offers a little better view looking down the shore toward the north and the east. One of the reasons the shacks get moved around is because, if people did not move them, the land would move underneath them, and at some point they would lose them. There are only nineteen left; at one time there were far more.

I am going to circle back quickly to speak again to this slide (Fig. 22). When I was doing some research out there working with the park, there actually was a dune shack underneath this one. It got buried by shifting sands. Rather than try to dig it out, they just figured “well start again.” As I said, it is a very dynamic historic cultural landscape.

Figure 24.

Figure 24 shows a house that used to be on Holland Island. Holland Island, in the 19th century and the early 20th century, had 70 houses, a church, and several other public buildings on it. In about 2009, I was looking with my wife to buy something waterfront and this was for sale with the caveat you had to move it. The reason you had to move it was because there’s not a whole lot of island left. That’s due to a combination of shifting sands, water, storms, sink land and what have you. Again, it is another very dynamic maritime environment.  By 2009, this was pretty much what was left of the island.

Figure 25.

By 2010, there was even less left of the house and island (Fig. 25). The house was never listed in the National Register per se, but as these photos suggest, certainly it was part of a maritime cultural landscape. I looked at this photograph and I thought to myself, if Andrew Wyeth did paintings of maritime landscapes, this would be one of them. The maritime environment can be very harsh.  As you may have guessed, we did not buy it and you can probably see why. It was not quite that bad when I saw it, but it was clear there were problems . . .  and the moving costs would have been very steep. Frankly, I couldn’t figure out how to get it off this island.

Figure 26. Merchant Marine Academy

This is an aerial view Kings Point, which is the Merchant Marine Academy on Long Island (Fig. 26). As some of you know, I have a strong avocational interest is naval history, and certainly this falls within the general parameters of naval history. Most of these institutions are clearly maritime cultural landscapes, including the Coast Guard Academy and the Naval Academy. From an institutional standpoint, it helps to think of them as maritime landscapes. It certainly helps to understand their integration with the maritime environment and, of course, “maritime” tends to relate to their mission as well.

Figure 27. Map of New York State, with the New York State Barge Canal running east and west.

When I began reading and trying to define maritime landscapes, it was evident that they are usually associated with the sea or with large lakes, or with large inland bodies of water. My sense from the National Register is that it is more than that, or at least it can be. The following image is a map of the state of New York; you probably can see that there’s a line that goes from the right side to the left. That is the New York State Barge Canal, successor to the Erie Canal. I think some of these, especially larger canals like this one, really have to be considered in the context of a maritime environment. They are not lakes or large body of waters, but they connect them, and they have an influence on the surrounding landscape. They are a strong landscape component in the context of the overall built environment.

Figure 28. A lock on a segment of the Barge Canal in Rochester, New York.

Figure 28 features a historic shot of one of the locks. This is a segment of the Barge Canal in Rochester, New York, a community that basically grew up around the canal. Because of that maritime association, it has built resources immediately along the canal that clearly are tied to it. Again, determining which built resources contribute to the historic landscape may bring up the issue of how far back from either side of the canal you should go, and what periods will be included if you are trying to designate it historically, but clearly there’s a strong water-based association here. From my perspective the whole is very much a “maritime” landscape, just as I would the C and O Canal. Canals, basically because they connect large bodies of water, invariably have built components. Part of the built environment is associated with the canal rather than simply other district buildings.

Figure 29. Smith Island, Maryland.

This is an aerial view of Smith Island in Maryland, which encompasses a sizable National Register historic district (Fig. 29). Clearly, it is a maritime environment. There is no way to get there except by boat. It is a particularly interesting location because it preserves a dialect of English that goes back, according to most linguists, to the eastern counties of England. While not all of the inhabitants speak that dialect, it is one that remains alive and well. In fact, the relative difficulty of access (i.e., no land bridge) to this maritime environment that probably helped preserve the island’s distinct dialect.

Figure 30. Fishtown

As we move farther west, along the Great Lakes, we find shoreline communities, many of them still active fishing villages such as Fishtown in Leland, Michigan (Fig. 30), groups of shipwrecks along the bottoms of Great Lakes, etc., also much survive as important examples of historic maritime landscapes, retaining critical characteristics in terms of the types of resources, the feel, the association (Fig. 31).

Figure 31. Fishtown

Let us also look at what is currently going on with shipwrecks in Lake Michigan (Fig. 32). I was discussing this topic with someone who said, “You know, most of the time those shipwrecks really don’t have any specific relationship to each other.” I thought about that and came to the conclusion that if you look at most historic districts, a lot of the buildings don’t either, at least not on a one-for-one basis. District relationships instead tend to be kind of organic in the way they evolve. The upshot of this is that a maritime landscape doesn’t necessarily have to be something that was created all at one time or in one place. A landscape too can be something that evolves over time.

Figure 32.

Most of you have probably seen a map such as this (Fig. 33) showing some of the resources, including the shipwrecks that form part of the underwater aspect of landscape. Because something is underwater does not mean it cannot be a landscape, any more than because something is under snow it cannot be a landscape. This is particularly true in Lake Michigan, because it is eminently divable. We need to basically consider strongly what our impacts are on the bottom. Nantucket Sound, for example, for the Wampanoags is not just the surface of the water. The tribes will tell you that they used to live out there, then the water came up, land became inundated, and they moved inland. Pretty logical. This map to make it clear that just because there is no direct tie between one resource and another, does not mean that they cannot comprise a larger landscape. There are many ways of looking at these districts, but the key is that they are tied together by the theme of the water and, considering the distribution of sites in this case, probably by the shipping routes. It is not my expertise, but that would be something I would think of immediately.

Figure 33. A map of shipwrecks in Lake Michigan

And as we know, there’s more to maritime cultural landscapes associated with shipwrecks than just underwater resources (Fig. 34). A maritime landscape can include underwater, above water, or both. It can be riverine; it can be a canal. There is a wide variety of possibilities. What you’re really looking at is not a property type so much as a level of significance and a contextual framework. All the better in terms of helping one understand the historic evolution of the larger landscape.

Figure 34. Components of maritime landscapes.

Figure 35 is a view of Monterey, California. The roadway you see was constructed, or at least started, in the 1930s. It has a very strong maritime relationship… though it is not intentional per se, other than making sure that drivers have wonderful views and vistas as they use it. Again, looking at this in the maritime context, the road gets you from here to there, but since its construction, it is also been very much part of the larger maritime context.

Figure 35. The roadway along the California coast near Monterey

Trestles Beach in California (Fig. 36) is a very important surfing location in California. It has a strong, strong relationship with the area’s surfing community. Trestles does not include much in the way of historic structures, except for a few shacks of more recent vintage. The historically significant part is the beach itself and the breakers beyond. These are natural features that have acquired significance not so much by belief as by use over several generations.

Figure 36. Trestles Beach, California.

The signage visually gives you a sense of the “breaks” that the surfers talk about, which have remained relatively static over the years — they do shift somewhat, but for the most part, because of the nature of the topography, they have remained in the same general locations. Families have been surfing here actively year after year since around the 1940s. Initially it was illegal to surf at Trestles (which made it ever so much more attractive to the surfer culture). It is actually a beach that the NPS hope gets listed in the National Register, despite current opposition by the U.S. Navy’s attorneys. The beach is owned by the Navy and lies within an active Marine Corps base.

Figure 37. Puget Sound Navy Yard, WA

There are, of course, also Naval and other kinds of shipyards. This is a historic postcard shot of Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington (Fig. 37). As an avocational naval historian, I have certain things that I am biased about, and clearly that includes loving naval shipyards, whether in Groton, Connecticut, San Diego, California, or Pearl Harbor in Hawai’i. They all have a very distinctive relationship with the water. And clearly, they are maritime landscapes in the sense of their relationship to the water and how they interact with it.

Figure 38. Ketchikan, Alaska. The red arrows mare Jane’s Café and Building No. 28, the only remaining structures.

The next image shows Ketchikan, Alaska (Fig. 38). If you look at the upper left side, you will see two arrows. Those are the only two buildings that are left, but this image shows the relationship between the fishing community and the water, and the importance of the interaction between the two as well as between human beings and the environment. If it is still there in this form, I certainly think it would be eligible for listing in the National Register.

Figure 40. Turtle and Shark, American Samoa

I do not believe there are any historic fish ponds actually listed in the National Register at this point, but some of them should be. This one below is in Hawai’i (Fig. 39). Not all fish ponds are entirely on the coast like this, but usually they are close by. They have a direct relationship with the ocean, and the native people related to that. Fish ponds are good examples of maritime environments. Typically, they include more resources than the fish pond, including buildings and family compounds. Together they form this particular landscape, and they fall within the larger landscape of the Hawaiian Islands.

Figure 40. Turtle and Shark, American Samoa

This place called Turtle and Shark in American Samoa is one of the more recent traditional cultural properties recognized (Fig. 40). There is nothing built that is included, but the site’s significance is solely driven by the belief system of the indigenous peoples in American Samoa. It is something that is very significant to them. That belief system and the marine environment, together, form a good example of a maritime cultural landscape that is not based on built resources, but is beliefs of native people.

Figure 41. An atomic bomb test at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands

My dad used to always say, “When you finish a presentation, always try to go out with a blast.” Figure 41 shows an atomic bomb test “Baker” in progress at Bikini Atoll in the western Pacific, in the Marshall Islands. Most of you probably know that in 1946 this was a location for testing the fourth and fifth U.S. atomic bombs. The Army, but mostly the Navy, was trying to determine what the effects and impacts of a nuclear explosion over and under warships would be. This is a good example of a natural environment that essentially remained undisturbed for a long time, evidencing relatively little in the way of human impact; as it exists now, it comprises a cultural landscape that is essentially the product of one cataclysmic event created by human beings.

Figure 42. Target map

The next image shows the post-test sunken ship target map of Bikini lagoon (Fig. 42). You can see by the circle where the target area is. A larger number of ships were in or adjacent to the target area during the blast (not all of them sank).

Figure 43. The USS Saratoga

The largest ship on the map—located at the bottom of the target area map just right of center– is the USS Saratoga. This ship’s “standard” tonnage was 33,000, although it was actually 36,000. To get a sense of the ship’s size, think of it as being almost 3 football fields long—it was a huge ship (Fig. 43).

Figures 44 and 45 show the Saratoga in the process of sinking after the Baker blast, and measured drawings depicting the ship’s current condition on the bottom of the lagoon.

Figure 44. The sinking of the USS Saratoga in the Baker atomic bomb test in the Bikini Atoll.

Let me give you a sense of what the bottom essentially looks like in this part of the atoll right now as an important naval maritime landscape. Figure 46 is the Saratoga, and again, to give you a sense of the size of it, look at the planes on deck and the small people. Figure 44 is it sinking after the blast. It did not sink immediately. It took some time. Some of these ships had been exposed to the Able test, which was the airburst ahead of time, and, while not sinking outright, they suffered damage. There is a shot of it on the bottom (Fig. 46), so I think you can appreciate how much nicer it is to be diving in Lake Michigan. It is considered to be one of the best dives, as I understand it, certainly in the western Pacific.

Figure 45. An overview of the USS Saratoga on the ocean floor.

The next two images provide similar views of the Nagato (Figs. 47 and 48), a Japanese battleship built shortly after World War I, which was captured and also expended as part of the Bikini tests. It is a little hard to distinguish which parts of the ship we’re looking at, but I believe this view is a view of the overturned hull looking toward the ship’s rudder. The ship as a whole came to rest upside down.

Figure 46. The USS Saratoga sinking to the ocean floor with the tails of planes visible sticking up from the deck and divers.

At Bikini, it is not just the ships on the bottom that form part of the cultural landscape. There are also some test-related buildings/structures that remain on the islands that form the atoll, and, of course, flora and fauna (Fig. 49). Somewhat surprisingly, not all of these features were destroyed by the tests. The real major impact of the test was first and foremost within a mile of the blast area, and, to a declining extent out to about three miles. Today, this is probably the best example of a one-event cultural landscape that demonstrates the interaction of human beings and the environment. Maybe it was not our best moment, but nonetheless, it is important today in that regard.

Figure 47. The Nagato before the bomb test

We at the NPS National Register Program do not think we necessarily have all the answers; therefore, the purpose of this collection is to record the work, suggestions, and challenges of many who work in the field. That said, the Register program has some strong feelings about the importance of cultural landscapes and maritime landscapes in particular, so the following discussions and presentations are of great interest to the future of this work.

Figure 48. The Nagato on the ocean floor

Figure 49. Structures and vegetation in the Bikini atoll

 

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