Scuttled Ship In Tahoe Listed As Historical Site

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The century-old SS Tahoe has joined the ranks of the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor and the USS Monitor in North Carolina.

They're all underwater national historic sites. The SS Tahoe is Nevada's first.

The sternwheeler lying 400 feet below the surface of Lake Tahoe won the designation from the National Park Service last week.

"I think its about time we had our maritime heritage acknowledged," said Ron James, state historic preservation officer.

Launched in 1896, the SS Tahoe steamed thousands of circles around Lake Tahoe, carrying freight, mail and sightseers. The 169-foot "Queen of the Lake" carried up to 100 passengers.

It was tied to a dock after losing its mail contract in 1934, and in 1940 was deliberately scuttled off the Glenbrook shoreline.

The sunken vessel gained attention when it was reached by a Reno-based team of scuba divers, a particularly difficult and dangerous venture due to the depth and Tahoe's altitude - more than 6,200 feet above sea level.

Martin McClellan and Brian Morris successfully reached the vessel's bow using high-tech scuba gear in July 2002 and dove to the wreck four more times that summer, placing a commemorative plaque on the vessel's bow. More dives to the wreck are planned this summer.

The National Historic Landmarks Program started a theme study on the maritime heritage of the United States in 1988.

More than 200 properties related to the maritime history of the United States are listed as historic landmarks, including vessels, light stations, life-saving stations, World War II sites, canals, marine hospitals, drydocks, canneries, port towns and more.