Get close-up look at naval history on Lake Erie at Maritime Museum

An interior view of the "Battle of Lake Erie" exhibit at the Erie Maritime Museum shows what it would have looked like on the deck of the U.S. Brig Lawrence after it was damaged by British artillery on Sept. 10, 1813.


By DANA MASSING | Erie Times-News, Pa. | Published: August 22, 2019

ERIE, Pa. (Tribune News Service) — Erie's bayfront will be packed with tall ships from several countries this weekend but if you to want to step away, cool off and experience local history, venture inside the Erie Maritime Museum.

By the time you leave it, you will have learned what the U.S. Brig Lawrence looked like after it was hit by British artillery in the Battle of Lake Erie and you might even know how to tie a nautical knot.

Museum educator Charles Johnson said he likes "to point people in the direction of history you can actually touch." His favorite among the permanent exhibits at the Erie Maritime Museum is the USS Michigan/Wolverine. The U.S. Navy's first iron-hulled ship, the Michigan, was built in the 1800s and renamed the Wolverine in the 1900s.

"You can actually touch the prow of the Michigan (at the museum)," Johnson said.

The "Battle of Lake Erie" is another of the permanent exhibits that visitors shouldn't miss, he said.

The exhibit includes artifacts and schematic drawings of the vessels from the September 1813 battle, which also involved the U.S. Brig Niagara, a replica of which is part of Tall Ships Erie. A section of a replica of the Lawrence, Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry's original flagship, is in the museum to illustrate the pounding the ships sustained in the battle against the British.

Another popular exhibit is "Fighting Sail," which includes a life-sized upper portion of a working mast, spars and sails and helps teach about the organization of fighting fleets.

Johnson said children like the hands-on station that has directions for how to tie various nautical knots. This weekend, he said, people will also be on hand to demonstrate not only how to tie a knot but also how to load a cannon.

Other permanent exhibits worth a look include "Maritime Art," "The Fishing Industry" and "Lighthouses and Lifesaving in Erie."

Johnson recommended setting aside at least 45 minutes to make it through the museum and longer for those who really want to look at and touch local history.


The Erie Maritime Museum, 150 E. Front St., will be open during Tall Ships Erie, Friday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Museum admission is included with a Tall Ships Erie festival ticket, which is $10 for a single-day pass or $39 for a weekend pass. For more details about the museum, call 452-2744 or visit www.flagshipniagara.org; for more about the festival, visit www.tallshipserie.org.

©2019 the Erie Times-News (Erie, Pa.)
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The prow of the USS Michigan, also known as the Wolverine, is one of the hands-on exhibits at the Erie Maritime Museum.

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