Lusardi to talk about Storm of 1913 present at archaeology event

ALPENA – State maritime archaeologist Wayne Lusardi will be speaking to fellow archaeologists and the public for Michigan Archaeology Day at the Michigan Historical Center in Lansing on Oct. 12. Michigan Archaeology Day is an annual event that draws hundreds of visitors to learn about the work archaeologists have taken part in around the state.

Visitors can participate in different presentations and demonstrations about history, and children can take part in making pinch pots or using an atlatl to throw a spear at a deer target to demonstrate how people hunted long ago.

“It’s a way for the public to recognize what’s going on in Michigan,” Lusardi said. “Exhibits from universities, private groups and historical museums highlight their projects and speak to other archaeologists and the public about what they’ve been doing.”

Lusardi has been speaking and exhibiting at Michigan Archaeology Day for the past 11 years, and this year his focus is on some of the different shipwrecks that occured during the Storm of 1913 and the widespread loss of life across the Great Lakes due to the storm.

“The Storm of 1913 is almost a ‘perfect storm’ scenario with near hurricane force winds and blizzard conditions claiming a large number of vessels,” Lusardi said. “There were 13 total losses, at least, that went down with all hands, such as the Isaac M. Scott that went down just off of Thunder Bay Island with 28 passengers, and 40 or so vessels that were damaged in some capacity.”

The Michigan Historical Center will have a temporary exhibit focusing on weather’s effects on archaeology, and the Storm of 1913 is a hot topic, not only for its damage, but because it is the 100th year anniversary of the storm.

“Two storms created low pressure over all of Michigan,” Lusardi said. “The storm hit west of Lake Superior and near Green Bay, Wis., around Nov. 8, and by the ninth and 10th it was full force over Lake Huron, and around the 10th and 11th it took another ship on Lake Erie.”

Archaeology day allows people of all ages to learn more about the history of Michigan through hands-on experience and one-on-one interaction with people who are working in the field every day.

“Its really very informative,” Lusardi said. “A lot of people don’t have any idea of the archaeological activities going on in Michigan. This day really highlights what’s happening in the state from sites and excavations at early colonial sites, like on Mackinac Island, to shipwrecks and maritime history in the Great Lakes.”

Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.