Ann Merriman has a PhD in Maritime Egyptology from the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, an MA in Maritime History and Nautical Archaeology from East Carolina University (ECU), and a BA in Anthropology Specializing in Archaeology from the University of Minnesota. Christopher Olson has an MA in Maritime History and Nautical Archaeology from ECU and a BA in History from Bethel University. Together, Olson and Merriman co-founded Maritime Heritage Minnesota (MHM) in 2005, an organization that is dedicated to the documentation, preservation, conservation, and when necessary, the excavation of Minnesota’s finite maritime and nautical archaeological resources within a not-for-profit paradigm. Merriman has worked on maritime, nautical, and terrestrial archaeological sites in Minnesota, Michigan, North Carolina, Hawaii, and Greece, and conducted research in 20 European countries, Egypt, Israel, and Canada. Merriman has held the positions of Acting University Archivist and Temporary Manuscripts Faculty Member in the Special Collections Department at East Carolina University, managed a conservation lab while a graduate student, and has written a book and an MA thesis that centered on 19th Century shipping manuscripts housed at ECU. Merriman's PhD dissertation – Egyptian Watercraft Models from the Predynastic to Third Intermediate Periods – was published by British Archaeological Reports/Archaeopress in 2011. Olson has worked on maritime nautical, and terrestrial archaeological sites in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Bermuda, Jamaica, and England. Olson has extensive manuscript experience, working in ECU’s Special Collections Department, has published numerous articles, and his MA thesis was an archaeological and historical investigation of the Confederate gunboat CSS Curlew. Olson has volunteered his time at the Fort Snelling Military Museum and is President of the Nautical Model Shipbuilder’s Club in St. Paul. Maritime Heritage Minnesota has received ten Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Grants, part of the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, to conduct historical maritime research, to digitize and edit ship log books for uploading onto the internet, to conduct remote-sensing surveys of Lake Minnetonka, White Bear Lake, Lake Waconia, a portion of the Minnesota River, and the Mississippi River in Aitkin County, excavate and document a partially dry nautical site, and investigate suspected steamboat wreck sites in the Mississippi River in Aitkin County. An 11th grant proposal is currently under consideration.
Maritime Heritage Minnesota Nautical Archaeologists Ann Merriman and Christopher Olson completed the Lake Minnetonka Survey in September and November 2011 and in May 2012. This project was a side and down imaging sonar surveys of the entirety of Lake Minnetonka. During the survey, MHM’s transducer sent images of the lake bottom to the sonar unit and the GPS provided a map and the lat/long of the boat’s location on the lake in real time. MHM recorded all the survey data, created waypoints of anomalies, and took photographs of the survey work. Beyond the digital recording of data, MHM kept a written notebook of each anomaly that was given a waypoint, with a description as to its possible identification. This information has been incorporated into two thorough reports of the survey and its findings. In the ‘recommendations’ section of the reports, MHM prioritized the acknowledged 129 anomalies and those anomalies recognized as wrecks into a hierarchy for further research.