The Hudson River Maritime Museum

November 2020

Steam paddle vessel Columbia alongside a wharf on the Hudson River NMM: PAH8891

Dr Sam Willis speaks to Sarah Wassberg Johnson, Director of Exhibitions and Outreach at the excellent Hudson River Maritime Museum. In the conversation, we discover just how important the Hudson River is to the development of American history. Topics include ice-harvesting, the great fire of New York of 1835, the American Revolution, the appreciation of the wilderness, the launch of the environmental movement, the suing of EXXON in the 1980s for polluting the Hudson, oral history, fishing, trade, power plants, and the extraordinary and unique ecology of the Hudson.

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    Sam Willis

    From the Society for Nautical Research, I’m Sam Willis. And this is the Mariners mirror podcast, the world’s number one podcast dedicated to all of maritime history. It’s the seventh of November. This continues our series of excerpts from the logbook of the Whaler Swan, of Hull, trapped in the ice in the Davis straits in 1836. Things have been worsening on board:

    Whaler Swan

    The ship has drove among a great number of icebergs. Our fear for the preservation of the ship is very great. We have everything in bags ready for running should we have the misfortune to come into contact with either of them. The carpenter employed in cutting up the spare topmast for fuel, our coals being nearly exhausted. Seventh of November the thermometer 13 below zero. A glass of water placed on the cabin table before the fire was in a few minutes skimmed over with ice.

    Sam Willis

    We know exactly where the Swan was when her Captain made these entries just off the west coast of Greenland. And measurements taken today, reveal that still, no ice has formed.

    Hello, everyone, and welcome to our podcast. This week, we have a real treat. In the coming months, we will be talking to leading professionals at maritime museums all over the world. And the first one I wanted to get on the show is a real favourite of mine. It’s the wonderful Hudson River Maritime Museum in New York. The museum was established in 1979 to collect, preserve, research, exhibit, and interpret a collection of historical artifacts related to the maritime heritage of the Hudson River and its tributaries. And I think they’re doing just the best job in telling that story. They have a magnificent collection, and I would urge you to visit them online @www.hrmm.org, and of course, they are all over social media as well, their Instagram page is particularly varied and fun. I’m speaking today with Sarah Wassberg Johnson, Director of Exhibits and Outreach. Hi, Sarah, thanks so much for coming on to talk today.

    Sarah Wassberg Johnson

    Hi, Sam. Thanks so much for having me.

    Sam Willis

    That’s all right. So, Sarah, you work in the Hudson River Maritime Museum, and so it sounds like a wonderful job. But you’re originally from the Midwest, you told me this, which I thought was fascinating because it’s just about as far as you can possibly get from the sea. And yet you live and work by the river, which goes directly to the sea now.

    Sarah Wassberg Johnson

    Yeah, it definitely was a change of pace. I grew up in Fargo, North Dakota. So I do actually have a fair amount of boating experience because Minnesota lakes country is right next door. But I had only ever seen the ocean twice before moving to New York. And the Hudson River is not really the ocean. It is an estuary, but it’s very deeply connected to the ocean, so

    Sam Willis

    It absolutely is. Yeah, so it’s a wonderful, wonderful place. I’m very lucky to have travelled up the majority of the length of the Hudson actually when I was researching my book on the American Revolution. In fact, I think I recreated a portage; we took a boat down Lake Champlain then into Lake George, and we had to carry it, carry this enormous wooden rowing boat across that little strip of land between the two. And then I was very lucky to spend some time; it’s a beautiful part of the world. So, tell me a bit about this wonderful museum.

    Sarah Wassberg Johnson

    So, the Hudson River Maritime Museum was founded in 1980, largely by a group of steamboat enthusiasts who had been involved in trying to save the Alexander Hamilton, which is the last sidewheel steamboat in existence at the time.

    Sam Willis

    And were they successful?

    Sarah Wassberg Johnson

    They were not successful, sadly, her, we’re gonna have to fact check me on this, but I’m pretty sure her hull was damaged in a storm, so after that, she was pretty much unsalvageable. But so we moved to our current location on Rondout Creek in 1983, and the reason why we’re located in Kingston is because Kingston was a major industrial port for most of the 19th century and into the 20th century. It’s also located about halfway between New York City and Albany, so it gives us a good vantage point for interpreting the Hudson. And the Rondout Creek was also the terminus of the Delaware and Hudson canal. So, there’s lots to interpret.

    Sam Willis

    Yeah, yeah, important to realize that it’s not, however massive and impressive the Hudson is, it’s you know, it’s over 300 miles long, isn’t it? But there are lots of very significant tributaries and the canal you mentioned as well. So there’s a whole maritime network there.

    Sarah Wassberg Johnson

    Yeah. And that’s part of what makes the Hudson River so unique in American history is that it does have these tributaries that really extend its reach far into the interior of the United States.

    Sam Willis

    And what sort of industries grew up there that made use of the river?

    Sarah Wassberg Johnson

    So, throughout the 18th century, it was the primary transportation highway between Albany and the interior and New York City. So, there were lots of agricultural products, lumber, things like that going down to New York City. But things really started to boom with the opening of several canals; construction began on the Erie Canal in 1817 and was completed in 1825. And that was really significant because the Mohawk River Valley, again we’re talking about tributaries, the Mohawk River Valley is one of the only places that you can get through the Appalachian Mountain Range, which stretches from Florida to Maine, oh sorry, that stretches from Georgia to Maine. So, it was really one of the only waterways that crossed that mountain range, and that’s part of the reason why the Erie Canal becomes so important to the development of the United States. But there are two other canals that connect to the Hudson River. The Champlain Canal, which was opened, it’s kind of a funny story, they started construction on that in 1818, opened it in 1819, and then it dried up in the summer. So, they had to redo the entire canal, so that opened in 1823. And then the canal that’s closest to our museum, the Delaware and Hudson Canal, opened in 1825 and closed in 1898. So that canal is not actually still in existence, but it had a huge impact on the Hudson River and industry because it brought anthracite coal from Pennsylvania, Honesdale Pennsylvania specifically, to Kingston, and to New York City and the rest of the world.

    Sam Willis

    Yeah. It’s fascinating how, do you know what that story about the Champlain Canal has made me want to do an entire sub-series of this podcast on Canal making because I think the stories are, just you come across them, it’s unimaginable backbreaking endless labour, yeah.

    Sarah Wassberg Johnson

    It really is and the D&H Canal actually had the most locks out of all of them, it’s 100, it’s, I think, it’s 108 miles and 108 locks, some parts it’s not one lock every mile there are sections where you have a lot of locks.

    Sam Willis

    My parents took me on a canal boating holiday once when I was a kid and they deliberately took me on this stretch of canals, I think, I’m not quite sure where it was in the UK now, but it had the most locks. And I basically had to walk the entire length of it cranking those annoying things, and still stuck in my brain. Thanks, Mum, if you’re listening,

    Sarah Wassberg Johnson

    So, you’re the towpath kid on that?

    Sam Willis

    Child Labor basically; it’s completely unacceptable. It is fascinating the way you’ve got all of these canals feeding into this massive river. So, there’s such an important industrial history of the Hudson isn’t there?

    Sarah Wassberg Johnson

    Yeah, and that’s, you know, the Hudson River is unique in a lot of ways. New York State was kind of on the forefront of a lot of industrial technologies. You had, as I am sure you know from your research into the American Revolution, you had all the foundries at West Point and Cold Spring. And then of course, also the Hudson River is one of the pioneering locations for steamboat transportation. Robert Fulton in 1807 starts the first commercial steamboat transportation company, basically, and starts making regular passenger runs between New York City and Albany. And his side-wheel steamboat design is really influential throughout the world. The opening of the D&H canal and it’s, you know, prevalence all of a sudden, you have this ready available supply of inexpensive high-quality coal. Of course, the first steamboats are running on wood, which is not terribly efficient, you have to stop often to refuel. Coal was a little easier to transport, anthracite coal, in particular, burns very hot, and it’s relatively clean coal compared to bituminous coal, which is what people were using previously. And so, this ready availability of coal really jumpstarts the industrial revolution in New York and with steamboat transportation and towing transportation which comes not long after.

    Sam Willis

    It’s fascinating how the industrial history of it, and also the history of the leisure goes on because it wasn’t just about ferrying people up and down the river was it, it was proper luxury trips going up and down the Hudson.

    Sarah Wassberg Johnson

    Yeah, so that is something that starts almost from the beginning. Of course, steamboat traffic starts with passenger traffic. A lot of the canals had packet boats, right, so it’s this very leisurely, quiet transportation on the canals. It’s not particularly fast, but it’s much nicer than being bounced around in a stagecoach on horrible roads. And there’s also this sort of romance. This sort of romantic concept of water travel, river travel, through these majestic scenic areas, becomes an ongoing theme throughout the 19th century, and when we get into like the 1830s, and 40s, really starts to be influencing artists and authors, writers, people who are producing literature. People like the Hudson River School of Art, Washington Irving. You know, these are the types of people who are travelling to the Hudson River, on these leisure trips. They’re visiting the Catskills. Later in the century, they’re visiting the Adirondacks near the Hudson River. So yeah, the idea of the Hudson River as this stunning scenic landscape is something that really develops in the 19th century as well.

    Sam Willis

    It’s fascinating the way you’ve got a real contrast. So, you’ve got these people, ice harvesting, I saw that as well, those are really important in the ice trade. But on the one hand, we’ll come back to that in a minute, you’ve got real serious industry: brickmaking, quarrying, cement making, crushed stone, cold transport, and then the other side of it, you’ve got artists and authors sort of kicking back and admiring the scenery.

    Sarah Wassberg Johnson

    Yeah, so part of that is a lot of the really, what we call, extractive industries, the brick-making cement making, bluestone, ice harvesting. But in particular, the construction-related extractive industries are because in the 1830s Manhattan has an enormous fire. And they pass a law that you can’t have wooden buildings in the city of New York anymore. So, all of a sudden, there’s this huge demand for stone and brick and cement. And that’s part of what fuels all these extractive industries in the Hudson Valley.

    Sam Willis

    I did not know that. That’s fascinating history, right there. And so how, tell me about the museum? I mean, do you try and tell all of these myriad stories? Is it even possible to do so?

    Sarah Wassberg Johnson

    I don’t know if it’s possible, but we try. I mean, it’s a little easier for us than in many places because we are not interpreting a specific era. We’re interpreting a specific place. So, our scope of interpretation is the entire Hudson River, really, but we focus on the area between Albany in New York City throughout time. So, how have things changed over time? How has the river had an impact on national events? What are the trends that are shaping human habitation, and social and cultural influences? So, our museum is, it’s great for us because we do a new exhibit, we do a new temporary exhibit every year. So, we have this huge scope of information that we can interpret every year. So right now, our two temporary exhibits: we have one about the Hudson River and its canals, and then our other more recent one is about the role of the Hudson River in shaping the American environmental movement, and then largely in the 1960s and 70s.

    Sam Willis

    That’s an extraordinary story, isn’t it?

    Sarah Wassberg Johnson

    Yes. I mean, definitely,

    Sam Willis

    I don’t think enough people know about it. Come on, let’s chat about that.

    Sarah Wassberg Johnson

    Sure, yeah. So definitely, in the 19th century, I think the American West starts to kind of get people thinking about the value of the wilderness, of course, which is kind of a construct in and of itself. But it’s really the impact on pollution in particular, and also scenic value is centred in the Hudson River Valley at the end of the 19th century. So, in particular, I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Palisades?

    Sam Willis

    Yes.

    Sarah Wassberg Johnson

    Yeah, they stretch from on the western side of the river from southern New York down into New Jersey.

    Sam Willis

    They are very important in the Revolution, tried to climb up those. It affected everything.

    Sarah Wassberg Johnson

    It’s this huge shelf of, I think it’s basalt.

    Sam Willis

    Yeah, it is. I mean, it’s like a mountain. It’s the only way to describe it. Up the side of the river.

    Sarah Wassberg Johnson

    Yeah, it’s a huge cliffside. And in the late 19th century, the Palisades were being quarried, they were being blasted. And they were being blasted for, not for like construction materials to build these big edifices, they were being blasted for trap rock, which was used to lay railroad beds. So, it’s gravel, essentially. And there was a particularly famous shape on the Palisades, it’s called Indian Head, of course, it looked like the head of a Native American man, and that was blasted and destroyed. And so you have these wealthier Americans, largely, who they want to go on their expensive yachts and view the beautiful scenery of the Hudson Valley, and there’s this destructive, loud, smoky blasting going on and so they start to oppose it. The New Jersey Federation of Women’s Clubs is extraordinarily influential in trying to preserve the Palisades. And what they come up with is they raise money to purchase, essentially, the Palisades. And then for the management, they come up with a really unique partnership between New York State and New Jersey, and so you get the Palisades Interstate Park Commission. So, they have a partnership with both states that manage the single park of the Palisades. So, the Palisades Interstate Park Commission was completed about 1909. And that is really what starts, sort of the modern movement of historical and scenic preservation in New York State. And that’s kind of what gets built upon in the 1930s. The Hudson River Conservation Society forms to protect Mount Taurus from quarrying, which is within the viewshed of West Point. But then, that’s kind of where environmentalism is sort of at when we get to the 1960s, that it’s more about the scenic beauty of the Hudson River. And in the 1960s, the commercial fishermen of the Hudson River joined forces with the sports fishermen of the Hudson River because they noticed there’s a pretty serious decline in the fishery, and they suspect that pollution is playing a big role. So up until the 1940s, most of the pollution in the Hudson River was sewage and debris, and you know, some industrial pollution. But starting in the 1940s and 50s, you get a lot of chemical industries that are polluting; you get the rise of, you start to get nuclear power plants. So, we have a nuclear power plant installed in the 19, late 1950s at Indian Point,

    Sam Willis

    Oh right, okay.

    Sarah Wassberg Johnson

    And so, there’s, all of a sudden, there’s more and more awareness about pollution. And, in particular, these fishermen, and what becomes known as the Scenic Hudson Conference, start to fight the construction of a new power plant at Storm King Mountain. I don’t know if you’ve heard of this at all?

    Sam Willis

    No, I haven’t, no.

    Sarah Wassberg Johnson

    Okay, so, Storm King is quite a famous mountain, it’s at the northern end of the Hudson Highlands, which is an area of the Hudson River that basically goes between several mountains. Right, so it’s very mountainous region, very scenic, very famous mountains going through there. They all have their own names. And Storm King was depicted in a number of Hudson River School paintings. And it’s just a very famous scenic mountain. So, in 1962, which is the same year and actually the same day, coincidentally, that Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring is published. On that exact same day that that book is published, Consolidated Edison Electric Company announces that they’re going to build a pumped-storage hydroelectric power plant, at Storm King, to kind of increase the available electric supply for New York City. So pumped storage, how that works is in the off-peak times, usually on inlet like overnight, they would use electricity from the regular grid to pump raw Hudson River water up into a holding reservoir in the mountains and then at peak times, they would use gravity to release it, and it would make the turbines turn, and it would produce electricity. So, it’s actually not a bad idea for producing electricity inexpensively and somewhat sustainably. But the mountain that they chose, I don’t know why they chose Storm King. The Hudson Highlands are very rocky, very stony areas not good for agriculture. They were very sparsely settled throughout most of the 19th century, so maybe that was the closest available land, I don’t know. But Storm King itself is a very porous stone system, like the geology of Storm King, the stone is very porous. And so there were a couple of things that environmentalists were opposed to, they were opposed to, the idea of a giant power plant on the face of Storm King Mountain that would be viewable from the river, they were opposed to pumping untreated Hudson River water into just a reservoir that wasn’t sealed, they’re worried about contaminating groundwater supplies for people who lived in that area, and the fishermen were concerned about sucking all this Hudson River water up into a mountain, and you’re gonna suck fish, and in particular fish eggs, because that was a spawning area for a number of species of fish. So those are like the three reasons why they opposed this power plant. And the interesting thing about this, I don’t really know why Consolidated Edison fought this for so long, but they fought that power plant for like 18 years, and it was a series of legal decisions that become known as either the Storm King Decision or the Scenic Hudson Decision, that basically sets legal precedent in the United States for individual citizens to sue on behalf of the environment. Previously, you needed to have some sort of economic stake, and this is the first time

    Sam Willis

    Also, it’s fundamental, isn’t it? Absolutely fundamental to the whole history of being able to fight for the environment.

    Sarah Wassberg Johnson

    Yes, it is, that is the landmark decision.

    Sam Willis

    That’s fantastic. It really makes me wonder, I know nothing about this at all, it’s the joy of maritime history is you keep coming across things you’re interested in but don’t know anything about – is the struggle with people living on the side of these rivers to maintain the cleanliness of it. The only kind of comparative thing I know is the struggle of Londoners to keep the Thames clean in the late 1680, 1690s. But it must have been a similar pattern, pretty much all over the world, with people living by rivers but really struggling with the quality of the water.

    Sarah Wassberg Johnson

    Well, the Hudson River is a little bit unique in that it’s naturally a very silty river. So, it looks brown, it looks murky because of the tidal action of the river, I don’t know if we’ve talked about that, but the Hudson River is an estuary, so it does have tides from New York City all the way up to Troy, which is just north of Albany. So, for instance,

    Sam Willis

    How many miles is that? It’s a seriously long way, isn’t it?

    Sarah Wassberg Johnson

    Like 165 miles somewhere around there.

    Sam Willis

    And I think the unique geology and the, I suppose the associated ecology of it, of the Hudson, is so crucial to the way that that history played out there. But that’s a very long tidal reach, isn’t it?

    Sarah Wassberg Johnson

    It is, yeah. So, at the Hudson River Maritime Museum in Kingston, which is about 90 miles north of New York City, we have a four-foot tide.

    Sam Willis

    Do you!

    Sarah Wassberg Johnson

    Yes, we do, yes, we do.

    Sam Willis

    And the, I mean, it is unique in other ways, as well as the ecology. Can we talk a little bit more about that?

    Sarah Wassberg Johnson

    The ecology or the geology?

     Sam Willis

    Either.

    Sarah Wassberg Johnson

    So, the ecology of the Hudson River, because it is a tidal estuary is also unique in many ways because tidal estuaries combine salty seawater with fresh water. And in the Hudson River, the salt line we call it, is between Poughkeepsie and Newburgh, so it’s about 60 miles up the river, and it fluctuates depending on the time of year and what the tides are. And then so part of the reason why, just an aside about ice harvesting, part of the reason why the ice harvesting industry was so big in Kingston is because we were above the salt line. Right, you don’t want salt in your ice and your ice freezes better if it’s freshwater. But that means that the Hudson River has an incredibly diverse set of life in it, so I think there’s something like 200 different varieties of fish that call the Hudson River home, there are all kinds of other wildlife, and this is part of what made human settlement in the Hudson River Valley so easy, right? So, some of the most famous fish of the Hudson River are sturgeon, shad, and striped bass. There are a number of spring fish runs which people, indigenous people, living in the Hudson Valley took advantage of for 1000s of years and definitely when Europeans first started coming to the Hudson Valley, they took advantage of that as well. In the springtime, it’s a ready source of protein after a very lean time of year. So, shad is, American shad is a very large type of herring that comes up every spring. Striped bass are more of a predator fish, they come up to spawn in the spring, and the Atlantic and shortnose sturgeon are probably the most interesting, I think, fish of the Hudson River because they’re these giant, prehistoric-looking fish. If you know anything about sturgeon, they are very prehistoric looking, they have bony plates, and skin instead of scales, right? They tend to hang out on the bottom

    Sam Willis

    They look like they’ve been drawn by a medieval monk.

    Sarah Wassberg Johnson

    Yes, yes, they do. Yeah, they have these big whiskers and all these weird fins. And they’re huge. They can get over 14 feet long.

    Sam Willis

    Wow. I didn’t know that.

    Sarah Wassberg Johnson

    Yes. And that’s modern ones, can get over fit 14 feet long. So presumably, historically, they lived longer so they were bigger. They were known in the 19th century as Albany beef because they were so prevalent, and people ate them.

    Sam Willis

    They produced so much meat, I should think.

    Sarah Wassberg Johnson

    Yes. They’re huge. Yes.

    Sam Willis

    It’s extraordinary, isn’t it? And I’m really looking forward to sharing some of your oral history collection of the river’s commercial fishermen, which is, I was just reading about that, you collected these interviews in the early 1990s.

    Sarah Wassberg Johnson

    Yes. So, we have a series of sets of interviews. One was done in 1984. And then there was a long series that was commissioned in 1989, so I think the last one is 1997. And it was interviewing these Hudson River commercial fishermen, many of whom were involved in what became known as River Keeper. That’s another thing I didn’t talk about with the environmental movement. But the Hudson River is the source of the original River Keeper Organization, which is now all over the world. And the reason why they were interviewing them is because the commercial fishery in the late 80s, early 90s, and the Hudson River was closed. And the reason why it was closed was because of PCB contamination, polychlorinated biphenyls, which is why everybody calls them PCBs by their acronym, which was the result of industrial contamination, largely by General Electric, but a number of other companies, on the northern end of the Hudson River. They were just dumping these chemicals in the river for decades, like from the 1940s through the 1970s, which is when the Department of Environmental Conservation finally announced that the Hudson River was contaminated with these chemicals. And of course, they’re the kind of chemicals that reside in the fat of fish, and particularly predator fish, right. So, the fishery was very affected. And the commercial fishery was closed, and there wasn’t really a lot of assistance for any of these commercial fishermen.

    Sam Willis

    Wow. So just the whole livelihood taken away; a rule was passed, you cannot fish you cannot, this water is polluted.

    Sarah Wassberg Johnson

    So, the commercial fishing in the Hudson River is a little bit complex, because a lot of the commercial fishermen were not fishing year-round, obviously, but also really focused on the spring fish run. So, a lot of them had other jobs, I think, so that probably played a role in the lack of support. But for a lot of them being a commercial fisherman was their primary identity. You know, yeah, you might work at the post office or you might own a mechanic garage, but your identity was as a commercial fisherman, that’s the thing you loved the best; that’s the thing they love best; that’s how they identified. And so, part of the reason why these oral histories were recorded was to preserve these voices and these experiences because it was disappearing. If you don’t have an active commercial fishery, there’s not people actively fishing. You’re not passing that knowledge on to the next generation. And a lot of them had been fishing, a lot of them were in their 70s 80s, a lot of them had been fishing since they were children, so they knew about historic fishing techniques, so that’s like a lot of what’s covered in the oral histories. But it’s an industry that simply doesn’t exist anymore.

    Sam Willis

    Well, I mean, it’s certainly something we want to do is to bring captured oral history like that to all of our listeners; I hope you’re enjoying this podcast, dear listeners. And I think we’re going to start with a couple of examples from your wonderful oral history collection. So, I’m really looking forward to bringing everyone a taste of that. So, as well as these oral history collections, you’ve said you’ve got a variety of paintings, prints, photographs, all sorts of bits and pieces in the museum, you also have a number of fantastic archives as well, brilliant archival material. Can you talk a little bit about your resources there for historians and students?

    Sarah Wassberg Johnson

    Sure, yeah, so our collecting scope is anything and everything directly related to the Hudson River. And the bulk of our collection, it is actually made of the collection of a man by the name of Donald C Ringwald, who was the leading expert on Hudson River steamboats. So that makes up the bulk of our collections, probably a third to a half of our collection, which is quite large, I think there’s something like 90,000 items in that collection and we still haven’t catalogued them all.

    Sam Willis

    Brilliant, I love a wild archive.

    Sarah Wassberg Johnson

    Well, it’s much better organized than a lot of museum archives that I’ve been to but we try to catalogue everything including ephemera, you know, documents, photographs, everything. So, we know what we have, we just haven’t necessarily put it all in our database yet. We also have collections of a lot of the industrial activities that are happening. We have volunteers who are cataloguing, hopefully for digitization right now, a large collection of technical drawings, including blueprints for marine steam engines for tugboats. for boat construction. We have ice yachting collections, ice harvesting, coal company collections

    Sam Willis

    I’m going to come back to you I think, we’ll have a dedicated episode on the ice ones though, sounds fantastic, really really interested in those

    Sarah Wassberg Johnson

    That would be fantastic.

    Sam Willis

    And lighthouses; I hear you are the lady to talk to about lighthouses?

    Sarah Wassberg Johnson

    That’s right, we wrote a book about lighthouses. So, I was the editor and co-author of that book, which we did a lot of very interesting, original research.

    Sam Willis

    And I think one thing you guys are doing, which is also fantastic is this emphasis on submerged resources, it’s certainly something I’m increasingly interested in is the amount of submerge material which is so precious; needs to be protected and needs to be investigated in its own right. So, you have your submerged resources project, don’t you?

    Sarah Wassberg Johnson

    Yeah, so that’s, the Hudson River is a little unique in that, because it is so murky, and because it’s very deep, in many areas, we actually don’t know that much about the shipwrecks and submerged maritime resources, as we like to call them. Some of them are known, but only a few have ever had divers professionally, and officially investigate them. And because it’s still a very active international shipping channel, it can be a little bit difficult and dangerous to investigate some of these resources, but it is something that we feel very strongly should be protected. Right now, the primary protection is not telling anyone where they are.

    Sam Willis

    Silence! So powerful.

    Sarah Wassberg Johnson

    Yes. So, there’s a lot of rumours and things and people aren’t particularly educated either about the rules and laws protecting maritime resources. I think there’s a lot of misconceptions about maritime salvage, like, ‘Oh, I found it, it’s mine’, but that’s not really true when it comes to historical resources. But that’s something we’ve been partnering with the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum,

    Sam Willis

    That’s a fantastic place. That’s someone else I want to talk to.

    Sarah Wassberg Johnson

    They have done a ton of research into their maritime, submerge maritime, resources which are a little bit easier to access because Lake Champlain is quite clear,

    Sam Willis

    Crystal clear isn’t it, and Lake George as well.

    Sarah Wassberg Johnson

    But their staff and divers and stuff have dived some of their wrecks. Art Cohn, I think, has recently retired from there, has been interested in helping to preserve our submerged maritime heritage, as we like to call it. But yeah, that’s definitely one of the things that we support.

    Sam Willis

    Well, thank you so much for your time, for talking to us about your wonderful museum, your wonderful collections.

    I think our listeners will sense that we’ve only just scratched the surface of what we can do, and we can come back, and we can talk about, but I promise you this we’re going come back and talk about lighthouses. We are going to come back and talk about ice yachting, and ice harvesting, and definitely, we will bring you some of these fantastic Oral History Collections. So, there’s so much more material going to be coming all from the wonderful Hudson River Maritime Museum. Sarah, thank you so much for talking to us today.

    Sarah Wassberg Johnson

    It was my pleasure.

    Sam Willis

    Before we wrap up a little news from the Society for Nautical Researchers Forum, we’ve had a very interesting post here from Nicholas Blake, the naval historian. Between 1st of October 1805 and 28th of February 1806, Sir Sydney Smith had a secret mission in the channel, possibly to harass and annoy the enemy, possibly to discover troop and ship movements. Does anyone know what this was? Sir John Barrow’s two volume ‘Life’ skips this winter. And there’s been some responses to that. So, if you want to check out what’s going on there, look at snr.org.uk/forum. And another question here from the excellent Malcolm Lewis, a regular contributor to the SNR forum, and this is about gunnery during the Age of Sail, particularly on HMS Victory. With a ship’s company of over 800 men and only some 150 required to actually sail the ship, in normal circumstances, it was important to keep those aboard to man the great guns regularly occupied, especially when moored in an anchorage for many days, even weeks. The gunnery operations were complex, with not only men handling each three-ton cannon, but with men in the magazines and supplying the gun next with powder and shot. During the YouTube walking tour of the ship online and noting some cannon in the officers living spaces such as the great cabin and the wardroom, I’m interested as to how exercising the guns was organized. It’s difficult to believe, in what often was a daily routine, the living quarters of the officers, including the Captain and Admiral, were disrupted by the removal of partitions and furniture, much of which was sent down to the hold in actual battle situations with great rapidity. British ships were noted for their efficient gunnery honed by regular practice, it’s difficult to find reference to the routine involved in exercising the guns. Perhaps on only infrequent occasions was the whole ship made ready for action, and the daily exercise involved only small sections of the ship’s armament? Any suggestions would be welcome, many thanks. And a discussion follows there. You can check that out as well snr.org.uk/forum. Well, I do hope you enjoyed our podcast this week. We’ve got so much more coming your way. If you want to help, the best thing you can do is spread the word: say that you’re enjoying it on social media, on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram, wherever you are! We’ll promise to follow you back and give you a shout out. You can find us on Instagram @marinersmirrorpod and we got a YouTube channel coming soon. You can also follow the Society for Nautical Research on Twitter @NauticalHistory and also on Facebook. Thanks guys. Bye

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