GLSPS Appreciation Award
Steve Daniel has been an active GLSPS member for nineteen years, almost the entire existence of the
Society. He’s served on Board of Directors since 1999, including 5 years as President. He finally
had to step down from the Board recently, after retiring and moving to Duluth.
He’s been consistently active as Chairman of the Put-It- Back (PIB) Committee. Their most
recent project was returning the Mataafa rudder to Lake Superior, just off of Canal Park. He
initiated and led GLSPS effort to acquire title to the Madeira shipwreck and obtained four
Minnesota Legacy Grants to create shipwreck artifact displays at Split Rock Lighthouse (Madeira anchor), Split Rock Lighthouse State Park (Madeira bitts and hull section) and Silver Bay Marina
(Hesper artifacts). Steve led the effort to acquire the main mast section of the USS Essex
from the National Guard base at Port Clinton, Ohio. The restoration and conservation of the
mast is an ongoing project.
Steve is also an artist and an author. All proceeds from the sale of his two books, SS America, A
Diver’s Vision of the Past (2000) and Shipwrecks Along Lake Superior’s North Shore (2008)
continue to provide funds to the GLSPS. He has been a presenter of Great Lakes shipwreck talks
to many organizations around Twin Cities, in Duluth and along the North Shore and has
conducted a shipwrecks class for the University of Minnesota continuing education program.
Steve promotes the GLSPS and works with local TV and Radio Stations to publicize GLSPS special
events and activities. Most notably were the Jason Davis On The Road program at KSTP Channel
5 (Mayflower Project) in Minneapolis and KBJR 6 and 11 in Duluth (Thomas Wilson Zebra
Steve participated on a GLSPS advisory committee working with Minnesota DNR to develop
better diver access to Madeira and Hesper shipwrecks. Steve’s drawing of the Madeira shipwreck is used on a DNR sign at the site in Split Rock Lighthouse State Park to orient divers
on the wreck.
Steve’s been a project leader and participant for many GLSPS projects during the past 19 years
and has been a boat Operator for many of these projects, especially the Shipwreck Monitoring
Project. On shore, he has been an active participant in the S.S. Meteor restoration project
every year since the GLSPS started co-sponsoring the event. He also helped to organize the
annual GLSPS dive show, which is one of the organizations main fund raising and outreach
events. For his many contributions to the GLSPS and for always being willing to share his manifold
talents and skills, the Great Lakes Shipwreck Preservation Society Board of Directors respectively thanks
and honors Steve Daniel with our 2016 GLSPS Appreciation Award.
GLSPS Board of Director
UMSAT Show Chairman
Dive Community Contribution Award
Icons in our dive community open doors to new diving experiences for all of us and few have
opened more doors than Elmer Engman. Aside from the three to four thousand divers Elmer has
certified in his 44 years as a dive instructor, he has also opened the doors to many of Lake
Superior's shipwrecks. Elmer has written three books on western Lake Superior shipwrecks
including the first diver's guide to diving the North Shore and Apostle Island shipwrecks. For
twenty years it was the go-to book for finding and diving western Lake Superior shipwrecks.
Elmer also ran or was part of a several scuba charter operations including the Nordic Diver, the
first Isle Royale Charter operation, and with his 90 ton captain's license ran charter boats
Neptune then Sand Bay.
In 1971 he was part of a team that explored and documented the shipwreck Thomas Wilson
beyond what any divers had previously done. That project included the salvage of the McDougal
anchor that is now exhibited in the yard of the Duluth Maritime Visitor Center. His exploration
and documentation was part of the basis for his book In the Belly of a Whale and the start of his
shipwreck newsletter Nordic Diver. Although the newsletter was only published for a short time
it was the most thorough description of the North Shore shipwrecks and their history anyone had
In 1972 Elmer started his diving instruction business Innerspace Scuba. In 1988 he added a
storefront Innerspace Scuba Center, which he sold eight years ago when he started his new
training and travel business Viking Diving. He now leads regular diving trips to distant ocean
destinations. Perhaps his most well known contribution to maritime history and diving was his
creation of the "Gales of November" shipwreck show. It started in 1988 as a group of divers
getting together to share shipwreck photos and stories and now 28 years later after he gave it to
LSMMA, it is one of the fund raising events of the Duluth Marine Museum used to promote
In his spare time he has served on countless boards and committees charged with the care of
maritime treasures like the SS Meteor, the Lake Superior Marine Museum and the Great Lakes
Aquarium & Freshwater Discovery Center, for which he is the Diving Safety Officer. For his
many contributions Lake Superior Magazine awarded Elmer their 2002 Achievement Award.
Most of us know him as a quiet man, but through his publications and actions he has spoken
immeasurably in terms that will long be remembered. Elmer, for opening the door to exciting
diving and sharing your passion for diving and maritime history with all of us, the Great Lakes
Shipwreck Preservation Society respectfully honors you with our 2016 Dive Community
C. Patrick Labadie Special
Our Great Lakes maritime history community has been blessed with dedicated professionals who
are eager to work with shipwreck divers in a mutual quest to solve maritime mysteries. Thom –
a magnificently mustachioed Wisconsinite is certainly one of those professionals. Although
recently retired, he first took a job as a caretaker naturalist in Greenwich, Connecticut, after
graduating with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a master’s in journalism and
recreation resources management from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
During his studies, he spent the summer of 1973 at Isle Royale National Park as a student
conservation assistant. The following two summers, he worked at Fort Wilkins Historic State
Park in Copper Harbor, Michigan. The Lake Superior hook had been set. So in April 1977,
when a one-year appointment as a museum technician opened in Duluth at the visitor center, he
didn’t hesitate to apply. “I’ve been here ever since.”
Thom has always had a special interest in Isle Royale and was somewhat of an expert on Isle
Royale shipwrecks. His 1985 book Above and Below was the accurate source of shipwreck and
lighthouse history that most Isle Royale divers of the era referenced. He spent many hours
researching the mystery surrounding the Kamloops sinking and shared his research with the
wreck finders and explorers. He is a prolific writer and has written for the LSMMA newsletter
The Nor’Easter, contributed articles to Lake Superior Magazine starting with an article in 1979
for the premiere issue of Lake Superior Port Cities (the original name). Naturally, he wrote about
an Isle Royale shipwreck, the steamer America. Thom also helped the late Dr. Julius F. Wolff, Jr.
revise his book Lake Superior Shipwrecks, the bible of Lake Superior shipwreck hunters and
local maritime history enthusiasts. He has built exhibits and has given countless talks on Lake
Superior maritime history. Although he is often called on to speak, Thom is also content to be in
the back of the room shooting video while others present and that is where you often saw him at
Gales of November. His friendly attitude and enjoyment of sharing his passion for the
shipwrecks has endeared him to all of us who share that passion. For sharing Lake Superior
Maritime History with thousands of visitors to the Duluth Marine Museum and thousands of
divers in shipwreck shows and friendly conversations, the GLSPS proudly presents Thom
Holden with the 2016 C. Patrick Labadie Special Acknowledgement Award.
Excerpts from Lake Superior Magazine January 2013 edition.