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Top 10 Illinois Dive Sites for 2012
badintexas - 1/25/2012 12:52 PM
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Category: Travel
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Top 10 Illinois Dive Sites for 2012Rotarian - Chicago, IL (3 votes, 4.67 out of 5 stars as of 1/25/2012)
The Rotarian has one of the more exotic histories of the Chicago wrecks. A 147-foot-long wooden steamer built in 1889 at Sandusky , Ohio , this vessel spent many years as a passenger excursion ship. When it moved to Chicago in the 1920’s, this aging vessel was used successively as a dance hall, the home of the Cook County Democrats, and as a restaurant that fronted a “blind pig,” offering illegal bootleg alcohol during Prohibition. Reputedly even Al Capone entertained here! After sinking at its dock, the Rotarian was raised and towed out into Lake Michigan on Sept. 28, 1931 , and scuttled. The wreck lies at 84 feet with much to see: boiler, the collapsed hull, its propeller, and, amidst the hull timbers, numerous beer bottles from Prohibition days.

George Morley Wreck - Evanston, IL (2 votes, 4.50 out of 5 stars as of 1/25/2012)
Resting in 10 to 16 feet of water is the Wreck of the George Morley, a wooden shipwreck that burned and sank in the 1800’s. Intact below the gunwales, the wreck is just 150 yards off shore and is marked by cans.

Wings of Wind - Chicago, IL (3 votes, 4.00 out of 5 stars as of 1/25/2012)
The 142-foot-long schooner Wings of the Wind sank with a coal cargo, but no lives lost, after colliding with another sailing ship on May 12, 1866. The subsequent salvage of the cargo destroyed the vessel’s stern, but the bow half remains in very good condition. Built at Buffalo, N.Y., in 1855, Wings of the Wind lies at 40 feet. Many excellent photo opportunities exist.

Louisville - Chicago, IL (1 vote, 4.00 out of 5 stars as of 1/25/2012)
Wreck. Wooden steamer. Built in1853 sank in 1857. Upright but deck is burned /colasped. Prop and steam engine is there and in place. 137 feet long. Usually has bouy. GPS: 41 46.16’N 87 20.39’ Pointer on map is not exact.

Mermet Springs - Belknap, IL (43 votes, 3.86 out of 5 stars as of 1/25/2012)
Mermet Springs is an 8.5 acre spring fed stone quarry, located in Southern Illinois. The quarry has 100 foot walls and wooded hills encompassing nearly half of its perimeter. The sheer walls are not only on the top but can be followed to depths of 120 ft. This quarry is devoted to diving and dive training. We have an array of items of interest for all divers. Whether it is ou r training platforms , easy entry docks , 15 - 120 ft. dives, or our many sunken treasures such as the Boeing 727 airplane used in the movie "U.S. Marshals", you are sure to find something of interest. Snorkeling, kayaking and on site camping for divers and their guests will round out your perfect weekend at Mermet Springs.

Pearl Lake - South Beloit, IL (25 votes, 3.84 out of 5 stars as of 1/25/2012)
Pearl Lake is one of the oldest private diving lakes in Illinois and offers fishing, swimming and diving. An old gravel pit, average depth is between 30 & 40 feet with a maximum depth of 85 feet. Many man made objects have been sunk in the lake to keep divers amused. Attractions include a bus (of course), boats, an airplane, concrete pipes, railroad tracks, and a two man submarine. The fish are friendly and abundant. A popular training lake for Chicago area instructors, the lake can get crowded on the weekends. Amenities include a camp ground, restaurant, bar, rest rooms, showers & changing rooms. Air fills and equipment rentals are available on site. Nitrox fills are also available.

Tacoma Tug - Chicago, IL (10 votes, 3.80 out of 5 stars as of 1/25/2012)
A 72 foot steam powered wooden tug sank on November 4th, 1929 when her bow split open during a tow. Today she sits at a depth of 37 feet in an upright position. Very intact with a large boiler. The pilot house is gone but much of the remaining wreck is intent. The propeller offers great photo opportunities and the decking around the steam engine is open offering a good view without penetration. Lately many salamanders have been living inside the engine. The large propeller offers great photos.

Straits of Mackinac - Chicago, IL (9 votes, 3.87 out of 5 stars as of 1/25/2012)
The Straits of Mackinac is one of the best locations in the world to explore lost ships. Dive sites range from wooden schooners & barges to a 588 foot steel freighter, the Cedarville. All skill levels of diving are available.

Haigh Quarry - Kankakee, IL (62 votes, 3.77 out of 5 stars as of 1/25/2012)
Deemed the "Caribbean of the midwest." This quarry is set up just for divers (No boating or fishing allowed). There’s 2 sunken boats, an old USMC transport truck, a rock crusher, and a few other sunken treasures. Not especially great vis, (anywhere from 5-20ft) averaging around 15ft. Great spot for training b/c of the 2 platforms and a beach entry. All has a "deep hole", which is great for A.O.W. deep dives.

Holly Barge - Chicago, IL (1 vote, 5 out of 5 stars as of 1/25/2012)
At the time of her sinking in 1907, the Illinois was the largest hydraulic dredge on the Lake. Today she rests in 35 feet of water near another dive site, the Holly Barge, Chicago’s first intentional shipwreck. The Illinois was a tug guided sand dredge. There is a pile of plates and general wreckage mess including a large centrifugal pump lying at an oblique angle. A slightly spooky feel at night, simply because of the amount of wreckage and yet no life or seaweed around it. There is a newly sunk barge nearby (the Holly Barge), sunk specifically for divers. This wreck is upright and in excellent condition. It is possible to penetrate inside.

PS. If you have been to any of these dive sites and have photos, comments, etc to add to DiveBuddy, please do! We’d love to hear your thoughts and it may help others to decide on where to dive in the future!