RELEVANT PROJECTS

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Search for the Oxford

NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, Maritime Heritage Program

In July 1852 the 148-foot, three-masted ship Oxford, laden with ice, whiskey and general merchandise for the frenzied California Gold Rush market, mistook the entrance to Tomales Bay, California approximately 45 miles north of San Francisco, as that of the Golden Gate, and sailed to her doom. Stuck fast in a reef within Tomales Bay, the Oxford was abandoned as a total loss after her cargo was recovered and her final resting place has never been identified. Teaming with the Maritime Heritage Program of NOAA’s Office of Marine Sanctuaries, the IWMA designed, built, deployed, and operated a hydraulic probe used to conduct ground-truthing operations in Tomales Bay to identify the potential location of the Oxford.

California Shipwreck Inventory

California State Lands Commission

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The California State Lands Commission maintains a database of over 1,600 known shipwrecks in state waters. The database is used by federal, state and local agencies, archaeologists and historians for both planning and research purposes. It was compiled from primary, secondary, and anecdotal sources, and because of the often-unreliable nature of the latter two sources, the database contains erroneous information about the specific locations of many of the submerged wrecks. The State Lands Commission awarded the IWMA a two-year contract to research and confirm the locational information of the wrecks. Through the research efforts of IWMA staff and students from U.C. Berkeley, portions of the database were updated and corrected. The correct locations and historical information for several dozen recorded historic shipwrecks were determined and corrected in the database. Based on this information, the Submerged Cultural Resources Unit of the State Lands Commission published California Shipwrecks: Historical Profiles, a booklet containing the profiles of a dozen of the more colorful stories unearthed in the research project.

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Evaluation of Navigation Hazards in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, Contra Costa County

Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Marine Patrol Office, and California State Lands Commission

On behalf of the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Marine Patrol Office (MPO) and the California State Lands Commission, the IWMA conducted a visual assessment of four isolated, partially submerged obstructions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta previously identified by the MPO as potential hazards to navigation being considered for removal. The goal of the survey was to determine whether the hazards appeared to retain sufficient historical or archaeological value to necessitate archival or field research before they were removed. In compliance with Section 15064.5 of the California Environmental Quality Act, the IWMA recommended additional archival research and documentation of three of the four remaining obstructions to determine whether they would meet the criteria for listing on the California Register of Historical Resources, and would therefore be historically significant.

Brother Jonathan Shipwreck Project

California State Lands Commission

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The IWMA conducted third party oversight of the implementation of the Archaeological Data Recovery Plan during the permitted salvage of the Brother Jonathan shipwreck. The side-wheel steamer was lost off the north coast of California in 1865 with a cargo destined for the Oregon Territory that included mining equipment, hardware and other retail merchandise, in addition to a considerable quantity of gold for the Native Americans and greenbacks for the U.S. soldiers stationed in the Territory. Following completion of the salvage effort and on behalf of the California State Lands Commission (CSLC), the IWMA conducted an extensive, multi-year conservation project that stabilized and conserved hundreds of ceramic, glass, iron, and wood artifacts recovered from the wreck. These are currently being curated by the CSLC.

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Fort Ross Archaeological Project

Archaeological Research Facility, University of California, Berkeley; California Department of Parks and Recreation

In conjunction with the U.C. Berkeley Archaeological Research Facility and the California Department of Parks and Recreation, the IWMA and students from U.C. Berkeley, St. Mary’s College of California, Sonoma State University, and Santa Rosa Junior College conducted a multi-year research project at Fort Ross State Historic Park, site of the southern-most outpost of the 19th century Russian American Company, and the first shipyard on the west coast of North America. The project identified the location of the Company’s workshop in their industrial complex, as well as the remains of the launching ways used in the construction of four Company ships.

Evaluation of Navigation Hazards, Sacramento River

California State Lands Commission

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On behalf of the California State Lands Commission (CSLC), the IWMA conducted a reconnaissance survey of an approximately 20-mile long portion of the Sacramento River in Sacramento and Yolo counties, California. The survey was conducted in order to make visual assessments of 21 targets previously identified by the CSLC as potential hazards to navigation. The goals of the survey were to (1) identify those hazards that, on visual inspection alone, appeared to lack either historical or archaeological value and that could be removed without the need for additional archival or field research and (2) to identify those remaining targets that would require additional research to determine whether they possess either historical or archaeological value. Following the survey, the IWMA prepared separate reports on the historic research conducted prior to the survey, and the results of the survey itself, along with recommendations about further treatment.

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Search for the Il’men

Archaeological Research Facility, University of California, Berkeley; California Department of Parks and Recreation

In 1820, the Russian American Company’s brig Il’men ran aground at Point Arena while enroute to the Ross colony. The ship was abandoned and her remains are likely buried under today’s Manchester Beach State Park. In conjunction with the U.C. Berkeley Archaeological Research Facility and the California Department of Parks and Recreation, the IWMA and students from U.C. Berkeley, St. Mary’s College of California and the College of Marin conducted a multi-year, remote sensing research project to identify the vessel’s location, and intends to continue the search using today’s latest Unmanned Aerial Vehicle technology

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Remote Sensing Survey, Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary

NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, Maritime Heritage Program

As part of an ongoing research program within the 1,300-square-mile Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, IWMA assisted NOAA’s Office of Marine Sanctuaries, Maritime Heritage Program in remote sensing operations to re-locate previously know historic shipwrecks and to identify shipwrecks that had not been previously discovered.

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Cultural Resources Assessment and Survey, Drakes Bay, Point Reyes National Seashore

California State Lands Commission, National Park Service, Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary

In conjunction with the California State Lands Commission, the National Park Service, and the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, the IWMA conducted a two-year, joint research project to assess submerged cultural resources in selected areas of Drakes Bay in the Point Reyes National Seashore. The objectives of the project were to detect and evaluate shipwreck sites within Drake’s Bay; locate the remains of the San Agustin, wrecked in 1595; conduct remote sensing surveys of areas identified as likely repositories of shipwrecks; test various excavation approaches; and to evaluate various devices designed to prevent contact between divers and marine mammals.