About a two-hour drive from Chicago sits a region of water home to 37 known shipwrecks in Wisconsin that could soon be granted status as a national marine sanctuary.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is trying to make the 1,075 square-mile region (spanning from Port Washington up to Manitowoc) a national marine sanctuary, but their proposal is currently in the middle of public-meeting stages in Wisconsin.

The sanctuary status would “protect historically significant shipwrecks and related maritime heritage resources,” according to the NOAA.

Though the area under consideration currently holds 37 known shipwrecks, NOAA estimates as many as 80 known shipwrecks have not yet been discovered in the region.

“These ships played critical roles in the settlement and development of the Midwest during the 19th and early 20th centuries,” the NOAA reports.

Some of the photos below are of shipwrecks that fall into the proposed boundaries for the national marine sanctuary, and others were taken closer to Chicago.


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