‘Follow the Fish’ to learn about tugs at GLMHC on Thursday
ALPENA — “Follow the Fish” to learn about the evolution of commercial fishing vessels in the Great Lakes.
Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary Maritime Archaeologist Cassandra Sadler will examine the historical development of the traditional Great Lakes commercial fish tug. This free presentation will be at 7 p.m. on Thursday at the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center, 500 W. Fletcher St., Alpena. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
“It’s part of my thesis work from when I did my master’s at the University of West Florida,” said Sadler, who hails from Delaware. “I did a project with the Historic American Engineering Record, over the summer of 2021. They’re a part of the National Park Service. It was a joint project with the Great Lakes Fisheries Heritage Trail to document a number of historic fishing vessels around Michigan.”
This presentation will consider how the region’s changing maritime cultural landscape influenced the design and use of the industry’s vessels.
Employing a maritime cultural landscape approach, this presentation will compare several vessels associated with Michigan’s commercial fishing industry to address how the region’s environmental, technological, political, and social changes of the late 19th and early 20th centuries influenced the construction and use of the industry’s vessels.
“I documented 10 different vessels, including the Katherine V and the Chinook, here in Alpena,” Sadler said. “Not only did I do the physical documentation of the measuring and seeing the current condition of the vessel, but I also did an operational history examination. I was going into the archives, and I was looking at where these vessels fished, any biographies available of the people who owned the vessels, and did a deep dive and a full history of the boats.”
Sadler really enjoyed the project.
“It was a fantastic experience,” she said. “It took me all around Michigan.”
She said each of the vessels are in museums.
“Fish tugs and fishing vessels were immensely important to the Great Lakes fishing industry,” Sadler said. “There aren’t many of the fish tugs left … there’s only a handful of active commercial fish tugs, and many are in museums. So, we’re just trying to document them before they all disappear.”
The Katherine V and Chinook are at the Besser Museum for Northeast Michigan in Alpena.
For more information about this program, visit thunderbay.noaa.gov, thunderbayfriends.org, or call 989-884-6200.