Monday, May 31, 2010

Search for Secrets of A Sunken Cannon - 89

Thunderstorms with copious amounts of rain can spoil holiday weekends. Memorial Day it was hot, sticky, humid drenching rain with vivid lightning. Too much in fact, but back in 1986 Bob Alcumbrack's world of wet weather was a dowsers best friend when searching for secrets of a sunken cannon. When storms pass the winds go calm making dowsing easier. Less chance of rods being disturbed and electromagnetic fields are closer to the ground.

In 1848 when Le Grand Cannon was coming up the Grand River by steamboat it was hot and sticky. The air was so hot that E. B. Bostwick his land agent couldn't meet him at the shipping docks in Grand Rapids. Bostwick had breathing problems and stayed in his hotel room until Mr. Cannon checked into the hotel. Unfortunately the air inside the hotel was almost as bad as outside and Bostwick couldn't imagine why the aged Mr. Cannon who was ailing would come from New York personally to deliver the Cannonsburg cannon to the Cannon Township's first elected officials.

Naming a township government in his honor just warmed the cockles of Le Grand Cannon's heart and he was going to secretly bestow his appreciation with a personal gift for naming it Cannon Township. Only a personal gift was fitting for such an honor. Dockworkers in Grand Rapids mentioned the cannon only briefly, which is postive proof such a cannon did indeed exist. None of Mr. Cannon's personal archives in New York mention the cannon. It was his secret. He was in fact a carbon copy of his forefathers; secretive like the wiles of Congressmen today who keep mistresses secret in other countries.

We hid the value of the Cannonsburg cannon with its engraved royal warrants, crests, seals and Le Grand Cannon's engraved plaque from the public. Being intact the value of such a cannon would rocket significantly which would make it an ultimate treasure hunters trophy in Michigan, America and worldwide. The cannon's significance made it imperative for us to keep our tongues silent. Treasure hunters should never kiss and tell until the object of their affection is found. Value is keeping its heritage intact. Without authenticity cannons become worthless junk, park or marine landscape decorations.

Tourists did you know that Mackinaw Island's remaining cannons are all reproductions with the exception of the 32-pounder below the fort on the lawn. Those above are replicas of originals, but they all lack the historical legends and historical designations engraved in them. The 32-pounder is the only real McCoy left over from the War of 1812. The rest were either dumped into a deep well on the island, or skuttled on warships in Lake Huron and those who made it until World War I and II were recycled. During the War of 1812 when the British captured Fort Mackinaw from Americans the six-pounders used against them were their own cannons captured or stolen during the American Revolutionary War. Americans engraved capture dates and locations of captured cannons from Saratoga and Yorktown, New York. The British recovered their own weapons.

Bob's second excavation was nearing its end in summer 1988, but Bob was still being guided with false positive readings. Again Bob found a bed of hard clay where many veins of water were intersected with heavy amounts of iron ore deposits. Although he failed miserably we pressed onward to site number three. We could have stopped digging once site number two was a bust, but it wasn't our nature to quit. We already knew what Bob had to find - a smaller cannon and Bob's dowsing skills were improving so we pressed on with excavation number three in 1989. The site had another 65-72 inch object buried deep in mud beneath a steep bank. This size might match a culverin.

Bob bought a telescoping backhoe bucket to excavate the third hole. Something was below. The magnetic field indicated it was 65-72 inches long. At about 7 feet down the bucket snared something with suction under it, but the bucket couldn't lift it up. Bob's adrenalin rushed when he thought he snagged the cannon. The hole was dewatered and Allen Janose and Bob probed the bottom with metal rods and they were so excited when the metal rods returned a signal.

Bob powered up the backhoe. It shuddered as the claw snagged something below water and with lifting power all of a sudden the hole filled fast with bubbling ice-cold water. Water gushed into the hole at hundreds of gallons per minute and then we could hear the swish suction noises as the water gave up its prize. It wasn't the cannon, but a chunk of upper shelf bedrock that was torn free and Bob dumped the bucket to reveal a broken piece of rock that hadn't seen daylight since the dawn of creation. Bob had ripped a chunk of stone up, releasing a torrent of ice-cold water from the top of an underground river. The inside rock was stained with bright orange iron ore deposits engrusted with large diatoms showing its age since the stone was formed.

The outer surface was layered with small diatoms indicating that the heavier diatoms sank first to bottom in molten rock and quickly cooled as the glacier moved forward leaving the smaller diatoms falling last onto the outward surface. Diatoms were single-celled or colonial yellow-brown algae, which form an important part of freshwater plankton. Diatoms were the siliceous cell walls of dead organisms at time of creation attached to molten rock that were supercooled by moving glaciers of ice.

We were studying the diatoms when all of a sudden the bubbling water ceased in the hole and it was if a toilet was being flushed. All the water disappeared into the bowels of the earth, the water rushing down inside the rock and disappeared. We could see the strong water currents rush past beneath the stone. Probing we couldn't find the bottom and the current was exceedingly strong and like after flushing the toilet the water returned with amazing force and after a few minutes the toilet was flushed again, a torrent of water disappearing with increased suction power. This happens every day and if fact I've been in a deep trench cut through clay and witnessed water gushing out of every crack and like the flush of a toilet the water disappearing backwards into the cracks from which it came. Weird!

In the end we found out that on dry land Bob's use of the brass angle rods to find buried objects he was about 90% accurate (depth and size), but in wetland areas, the iron ore deposits in water veins rendered his rod usage 90% inaccurate. We realized he couldn't dig up his wildest dream in wetland areas using his specialized brass angle rods. Only professional diviners and water witches used these rods to find water and not brass cannons, which was a misrepresentation of treasure hunting lore. On dry land he could find brass objects and he could time date objects and coins. Bob humbled himself, but never gave up searching. The electromagnetic fields he found intrigued him. At one point he thought he had traced the cannon to Slayton Lake, Greenville, Mt. Pleasant, Newaygo and Traverse City, but all these places had their own old cannons to dispose of too, as well as Rockford, Sparta and nearly every other town that used old cannons to celebrate the Fourth of July. The old post Civil War era cannons service was nearing extinction.

Research has shown that the Cannonsburg cannon predated the Civil War by 200 years or more. It's hard to believe that the original cannon crew would sell or trade the killer cannon knowing that it killed their friend. The township officials and mishap cannon shooters and Rena Tompsett wanted it to disappear forever, but where did they bury it?

So where did Tompsett's grief stricken friends go to dispose of the ancient relic known as the Cannonsburg cannon? Where did they bury it? How could they be gone only 45-60 minutes? Did such a place exist in 1885 where Bob Alcumbrack in 1986 could never disturb a sunken cannon? Could the former Blacksmith owner named James Thomas have secretly smelted the cannon down after Tompsett's funeral or recycled it into other products or did they bury it where the Townsend Park Pavilion is today?

Search outside the box for answers. Bob Alcumbrack again had prison palor upon the potential conclusion. At least form an opinion of what happened to the Cannonsburg cannon. I've already told you where it is buried. The only trouble is I didn't give you an exact location. I'm challenging you to a duel of brain cells. Fire up those neurons and see if your mind's eye is strong enough to find the missing cannon. Next time I'll sharpen our focus on what happened to the missing cannon showing where Bob went wrong and where things went right. We had become the mysterious ley line hunters of Cannonsburg and Bob found... Oops, my horns are risin' again or my halo is flickering.

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