Silver Spray shipwreck at Morgan Shoal. Photo: Dan Peterman

Morgan Shoal is a shallow water limestone formation that extends one-half mile from Chicago’s shoreline at 49th street. Covered by four to eight feet of water, the Shoal still bears the visible striations caused by glaciers moving across its surface. It hosts a complicated ecosystem very different from the surrounding sand and gravel lake bottom, and it harbors the remains of the Silver Spray–a commuter steamship that was crushed on the shoal by waves 100 years ago. At several points in the past century and as recently as 2009, plans have been made by the City to expand park acreage by using Morgan Shoal as a convenient base for fill. In this project Peterman focuses on Morgan Shoal as a site of historical, ecological, and geological complexity that can contribute to a deepening sense of the lakeside ecosystem we inhabit. The exhibition component is paired with public conversations inviting experts in Lake Michigan biology and ecology, as well as experts in Great Lakes regulatory issues, to make the case that the lake bottom is both a “wild” place and a public commons, a vital and energetic intersection of climate, water, rock, and living organisms, including us.

Peterman launched this project of with an opening event in July that sought to spark awareness of this ecological site through commemorating the 100 year anniversary of the wreck of the Silver Spray at Morgan Shoal. Irish stew was served to all, honoring the stew simmering on board at the as the steamship ran aground on July 14th, 1914.


Read more about Peterman and Morgan Shoal here.