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Indiana man wants to raise sunken steamship



Indianapolis, Indiana – General John Hunt Morgan’s Confederate forces captured the steamer Alice Dean in 1863 as it was navigating the Ohio River.

“It was used to transport his troops across the Ohio River, when he was finished his scuttled the boat and burned it to the deck,” said Clarence Merk, a Southern Indiana man who wants to salvage the ship.

Following his crossing of the Ohio River at Mauckport, Morgan conducted several attacks on Indiana villages.

The ship was abandoned after the Civil War for 160 years, during much of which time it was looted.

“In 1959, one of the damns broke at English and the boat was exposed and people were actually able to walk on the ship and gather artifacts,” Merk said.

The Alice Dean was eventually claimed by the Navy, but lifting and moving the ship might cost millions of dollars. Before the Navy could fit the project into the budget, Merk warned that it might take years.

Merck’s nonprofit is currently working to generate funds to assist with some of the expenses.

“Purchase a piece of property out of the flood plain, within a mile or two of the Alice Dean, where that building is specifically designed by an architect to house, design, preserve and protect, freeze, reassemble and display the Alice Dean,” Merk said.

The wreck was discovered in 2014 by divers with the DNR and Louisville Metro Police, but little has been done to recover it since then. Merk calls on those concerned with history and the government to hasten the procedure.

“This is a national treasure very few people know about, they’ve been to Gettysburg, they’ve been to Valley Forge, but they’ve never been to the largest submerged Civil War Navy sanitary ship in Indiana history.”

A sunken vessel that is owned by the federal government cannot be disturbed, according to the Sunken Military Craft Act of 2004. This law applies to Alice Dean.

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