- Published on Thursday, 31 January 2013 11:52
- Written by Mike Hughes
If you see a dive boat out in Lake Michigan with divers jumping over the side to explore one of the hundreds of wrecks that met their fate in this freshwater ocean, your first guess might not be that the charter boat came from one of the marinas along Indiana’s Great Lake coastline. It turns out that the only 5masted schooner to traverse Lake Michigan, the 365ft long David Dows, came to rest 7miles from Chicago, but only 5miles from Indiana’s shoals in 40ft of water. The David Dows was built in 1881 and sunk in 1889. She was such a massive ship that when fully loaded, she road too low in the water to enter or leave most ports. Her masts stood up to 97ft tall and it took some 8hours to unfold the ships sails. Besides running aground in shallow areas, she was reported to have collided with and sunk two other schooners as well as taken out a port dock. Her masts were trimmed down in 1883 and she became a coal barge until she sank in a storm.
Right off Indiana Dunes State Park are the remains of the Muskegon, a sand pumper, that caught fire in 1910, and the 154ft long J.D. Marshall that sank to 35ft deep in 1911 during a squall while performing a salvage operation on the Muskegon less than a mile from Indiana’s lake shoreline. Two popular dives off the coast include the 240ft long Material Service Barge at 30ft, and the 100ft long patrol boat Buccaneer at 75ft. For Deeper dives there is the Thomas Hume at 147ft, or the side wheel Rotarian at 84ft. Other notables include the Wings of Wind, the Straits of Mackinac, Wells Burt, Louisville, Tacoma, Car Ferry #2, Flora M. Hill, George F. Williams, and for those that get seasick on a boat, there is the shore dive at Hammond Marina by the Horseshoe Casino on the 280ft long George F. Williams that sank in 1915 some 300ft off shore with the bow at 7ft and the stern at the almost insurmountable ear equalizing depth of just under 12ft.
Traveling to inland Indiana there are several quarries where diving is either exclusive, or permitted in conjunction with other sports such as fishing, camping, cliff diving, swimming, and boating. Starting off with Dream Lake, which is a 15acre spring fed quarry, near St. Paul and next to Hidden Paradise Campground, you can dive down to 35ft and see 6ft long paddlefish that get up to 200lbs and have been around some 20-40million years. Paddlefish are not as skittish as most other fish, so you are likely to get a chance to see this prehistoric species up close and personal. You can also find lawn furniture, a mini-school bus, coal rail car, motorcycle, a sailboat, and a new 40x40ft dock. From July to September you can find harmless freshwater jellyfish.
Next we go to France, France Park that is, also known as the old Kenith Stone Quarry, and located 3miles west of Logansport. The park is open for divers on weekends and holiday Mondays from May thru October. Larry Krigbaum of The Diving Den says that this is the place the locals flock to. “Folks have been diving this park since the 1970’s,” says Krigbaum. “There are photos of divers who just backed up their trucks and jumped right into the water. The park regs have changed but divers still come to dive.” Call The Diving Den in Kokomo for updates on times, reservations, and park diving rules. The substrate is filled with rock slabs, a Culver to swim through, a 1940’s school bus, a pickup truck, and a max depth of 35ft. They did have big paddlefish here, but the dive area was not too long ago opened to fishing, so watch out for hooks.
Phillips Quarry in Muncie is open 365 and doesn’t ice up for very long in January. The vis can be 20-75ft depending on time of year and max depth is 55ft. cars, boats, and an airplane fuselage are suspended just beneath the surface or rest on the algae and silt laden substrate. Turtles, bass, blue gill and some newly introduced paddlefish can be viewed. Tom Leaird of Leaird’s Underwater Service in Muncie does a lot of diving here. “I’ve been diving for over 52 years,” says Leaird. “Phillips Quarry is one of the best local places to dive. It’s right in town and it offers divers good vis and a lot to explore.”
I called Blue Spring Park and was told that the dive park is currently closed. White Rock might be an option, but is busy with cliff divers, boats, and only 25ft deep.
I talked to John Sloan of Lake City Scuba Center in Warsaw about local lake diving because you never hear much about it except by one diver to another. John told me that in the Kosciusko County alone, there are over 100 lakes. Lake Tippecanoe is 122ft deep max and a vis of 15-20ft. The lake has carp, catfish, and 3ft long pike that tend to stay in the shallow areas in the weeds. Below 20ft, there is a lot of silt, but this is where you can find the old thick glass antique bottles. In the summer, the lake has a lot of boat traffic. Lake Wawasee is the largest natural lake but it is very shallow with one or two spots no wider than four cars parked together that max out at 75ft of depth. The middle of the lake is very shallow and this gives the contour of the lake a weeds and sand theme both on the shoreline, and in the middle of the lake like the shape of a “w”. Lake Syracuse has a barge down at 30ft. Lake Waubee has low vis, but low boat traffic too, so this makes a good refresher dive lake. Shriner Lake, 10 minutes north of Columbia, has easy access, but is most notable because two divers went in here and because they didn’t have a dive flag, they both received a $328 fine. So carry a dive flag with you in Indiana or anywhere else where boats are likely to be for that matter; protect your head, as well as your pocket book.
Some other lakes you might like from northern Indiana moving south include: Clear Lake in the NE corner of the state near Fremont. The max depth is 107ft and vis between 30-50ft; hence the name. Besides the regular cast of creatures, this lake is noted for crayfish and mud puppies. Big Long Lake is located near Wolcottville and has bass, perch and trapdoors snails, besides zebra mussels. Vis is about 15ft. Moving to the northern far left of the state you can dive Lake Etta County Park in Gary with a max depth of 25ft and vis of 5-10ft. Lakewood Park in Burns is 30-40ft deep and vis is 11-15ft. Three Rivers County Park near Lake Station is 50-60ft deep and the vis is 16-20ft. Flint Lake in Valparaiso if 60ft max and the vis is 5ft. The Barbee Chain in North Webster and east of Fort Wayne includes close to a dozen lakes by itself. Finally, down at Linton in the Southeastern Park of the State we have Sunset Lake with a depth of 30ft and vis from 8-25ft. The lake is in a city park and has bass, blue gill and a cabin cruiser. Josh Buhro of We Teach Scuba in Kindalville, says that the local lakes offer divers everything they need in order to be great divers. “We have some lakes that have pretty good vis but to be honest,” Burhro says, “The vis that isn’t as good makes you a better and more attentive diver.”
Jim Gentile of Windy City Diving says that Indiana has a lot to offer through its wrecks, sand dunes, and lakes including the one big Great Lake, and tons of little ones, and as if this isn’t enough, local divers also flock to dive sites in the surrounding states on a regular basis. “This is just a great place to dive in general,” Gentile says. “There is something for every level of diver. Whether you enjoy wrecks or lake diving this is the place to come and I guarantee you will find the type of diving you want to do and the perfect site to dive.” Great Dives.
|Dive Right in Scuba
|Windy City Diving
|Goose's Scuba Shack, Inc.
|Hart City Scuba
|Lake County Divers Supply
|Leaird's Underwater Service
|Lake City Scuba
|The Diving Den|