Historical documentary features lost Moosehead Lake steamboats

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GREENVILLE — The Moosehead Marine Museum is partnering with Moosehead Lake Divers to bring the history of steamboats on Moosehead Lake to life in the form of a historical documentary film “The Sunken Steamboats of Moosehead Lake.” The project will feature underwater video of steamboat wrecks in the lake, historical still images and excerpts of oral history interviews.

Liz Cannell, executive director of the Moosehead Marine Museum has sought the help of Ryan Robbins, founder of Moosehead Lake Divers to produce the documentary. “We’re excited to have the opportunity to make this film, which will focus solely on the steamboating history in Moosehead Lake,” Cannell said.  “There’s a lake-full of history right in our backyard … it’s time we share it.”

To get the lofty project off the ground, the team is currently applying for grants and running an online crowd-funding campaign, hoping to raise enough money to purchase underwater video gear and production equipment.

“It’s a grassroots effort and we want the community to be involved,” Cannell said. “Our immediate focus is research and funding, with the goal of being able to get the oral history interviews underway.  We are aiming to begin production this summer with a target release date of 2017.”

A short film trailer has been released to help promote the crowd funding, and a website has been launched in conjunction with a Facebook page. 

“This story should absolutely be told,” Robbins said. “It’s not only history, but it’s fascinating, interesting history of Moosehead Lake. Capturing this story in a documentary will provide an invaluable resource to preserve Maine history for generations at the museum and schools throughout the region.”

The film will feature high-definition video of two known wrecks from Moosehead’s heyday era — the Twilight II which was the sister ship to the Katahdin and the Kineo which was operated by the Mount Kineo House.  Moosehead Lake Divers will be conducting research and discovery dives this summer with hopes of identifying a third wreck. 

The Moosehead Marine Museum was founded in 1979 as a non-profit. They preserve and operate the Katahdin, the last of all the steamboats on the lake. The museum’s collection of marine artifacts holds a host of steamboat related items.

Moosehead Lake Divers was founded in 2015 by Robbins as a club with the goal of networking and sharing resources with other divers. “I’ve assembled a team of scuba divers who will be helping to make this film,” he said.  “Right now I’m spending a lot of time poring over old photographs, captains’ logs and other materials with support of both the Moosehead Marine Museum and the Moosehead Historical Society.”  

This year, the Moosehead Marine Museum and the Moosehead Historical Society are collaborating on projects that will increase knowledge of local history for the benefit of the community. The historical society is advising the Marine Museum on a project to upgrade the collections catalog using an industry recognized database that, when completed, will enable guests to access both museums’ catalogs for research. The historical society is also advising the filmmakers on the documentary film.

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