Lake Erie Quadrangle

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Currently undergoing the designation process

Discover the wonders of Lake Erie through the proposed Lake Erie National Marine Sanctuary, a haven of approximately 740 square miles spanning from Pennsylvania’s scenic shoreline to the Canadian border. Along the 75-mile shoreline of Erie County, you’ll encounter six townships, two boroughs, and the vibrant city of Erie. With a vision to harmonize shipping and commercial activities, the sanctuary nomination seeks to exclude the Port of Erie from its boundaries. A testament to the area’s rich maritime history, Erie County, Pennsylvania submitted a nomination in 2015, and NOAA is now carefully considering the sanctuary designation. Immerse yourself in the beauty of Lake Erie as you explore this protected sanctuary, preserving not only its natural treasures but also a nationally acclaimed collection of shipwrecks. Join us in celebrating and safeguarding Lake Erie’s maritime heritage at the proposed Lake Erie National Marine Sanctuary.

Lake Erie is a region abundant in historical and cultural significance, where the relationship between human activities and the maritime environment has shaped its identity, creating a profound sense of meaning and place. This connection is expressed and preserved in a diverse array of maritime cultural resources, ranging from revered sacred places and cultural practices to iconic lighthouses and historic shipwrecks. Together, these elements form a vibrant maritime cultural landscape.

During the mid-19th century, Lake Erie was one of the busiest inland waterways, hosting a thriving hub of human activity. Pennsylvania played a vital role during this era, supporting the largest commercial fishing fleet on the Great Lakes, witnessing early shipbuilding ventures, and housing significant naval shipyards during the War of 1812. The area currently under consideration for sanctuary designation represents nearly every vessel type that operated on the Great Lakes throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Based on historical records, 196 vessels may have sunk within the Pennsylvania waters of Lake Erie, with 35 of these shipwrecks identified to date. Spanning from the 1838 steamboat Chesapeake to speedboats, tugs, barges, and workboats lost before 1940, this diverse collection includes schooners, brigs, barks, barges, schooner barges, dredges, sand suckers, fishing tugs, trawlers, sidewheel steamboats, and propellers.

If designated, NOAA’s activities would complement the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s efforts to preserve and interpret the area’s importance, including its collection of nationally significant historic shipwrecks and other underwater cultural resources. Furthermore, this area holds the potential for submerged prehistoric sites and historic properties that carry immense religious and cultural significance to Indigenous nations and tribes, further enriching the historical and cultural fabric of Lake Erie.

GET INVOLVED: Sign our letter of support for NOAA to designate Lake Erie Quadrangle National Marine Sanctuary.

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