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August 23, 2013

Divers plumb depths of Otsego Lake history


For now, however, the Leatherstocking is the most significant vessel that has been turned up in the survey of the lake.

Said Lord, a professor at the State University College of Oneonta who assists in projects at the Biological Field Station in Cooperstown: “There has never been an archaeological survey of Otsego Lake. The lake has a long history, going back to before the American Revolution, and we have to make sure we do a good job of understanding what’s here before somebody stumbles on these things and, through ignorance, destroys the evidence of the history.”

The fleet of volunteer divers has been a tremendous asset to the effort, he said. The precise location of any archaeological finds, such as the Leatherstocking, is being kept a closely guarded secret by those in the know because publicity could invite scavengers, even though the wreck is believed to have no significant monetary value.

“There’s nothing down there that should be of interest to anyone except historians,” Zarzynski said.

Lord pointed out that any property left at the bottom of the lake for more than 50 years is legally protected because it becomes the property of the state.

Zarzynski said it’s crucial to leave such wrecks undisturbed because future technology — such as developing holograms of the vessels — could be developed one day that would allow people to tour the inside of a virtually reconstructed vessel.

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