Finding of the Cold Water Cave and the Bertrand


NR: Today is December 14, 1975 this will be an interview with Otto Knauth who was reporter for the Des Moines register and who has written many articles about conservation causes and projects in Iowa. This interview is part of the Oral History project of the Des Moines library system. Interviews are with people who have special knowledge of our past and efforts to preserve what should be our heritage. Otto Kanal has special knowledge of such projects in Iowa. They include the Steamship water project and the Cold Water Cave which was discovered a few years ago. But, before we talk about these projects could you identify yourself a little more completely.


OK: I was born in Germany in 1916 to American parents and came to Untied states at the age of about a year. I, spent my boy hood uh in the village of Pleasntdale right outside New York and in 1930 the family returned to Europe where I attended school and finished school in Berlin in 1936. I returned to the United states in 1938 and attended the University of Illinois for a year and then got a job on the the Saint Joseph’s Caset  n Saint Joseph Missouri. I returned there after WW2 and in 1948 I got a job on the Des Moines register and the family…we moved to Des Moines. I have been with the Register ever since. Starting as a copy editor later I was assistant city editor then switched over to recording. I have been a science editor and report, since 1963.


NR: How did you end up getting into this uh, very specialized field of reporting?


OK: Well I have always been interested in the outdoors and every since I came to Des Moines I have taken look walks out in the country along the rivers. I have a canoe, and we have canoed almost almost all the rivers in Iowa and this uh, just naturally uh spread over into my work at the register there was nobody on the paper that was doing just this sort of thing so I told Matilda and Mitch that I felt that it needed filling.


NR: why don’t you tell us about the discovery, which you have a part of I believe, of the cold water cave here in Iowa.


OK: The cold water cave was discovered in the fall of 1967 by two university of of Iowa geology students David Yagno and Steve Barnett both of these young men were harden cavers that explored caves in many other areas of the country and they felt that the geology of northern eastern Iowa was such that there should be a large cave, that area where the geology is similar to Kentucky where Mammoth cave is…


NR: I can I interrupt? When was this?


OK:  in 1967


NR: 1967, ok.


OK: They explored ne Iowa for about 5 years with out finding anything and then uh were directed to cold water spring. Cold water spring is a very scenic spot its…its about a mile north of the upper Iowa river in the northwestern counter of Wnneshiek county about 3-4 miles northeast of the little town of Kendallville the spring gushes out of the base of a high cliff from a deep recess in the cliff the water…the creek that comes out is actually contributory of cold water creek that actually flows into upper Iowa.  Yagno and Barnett went to the spot and uh on the spur of the moment Barnett took off his shirt and slipped into the pool at the base of the cliff where the spring came out. He slipped in feet first and uh reached back as far as he could with his feet, trying to feel if there was any obstruction back there. The water was extremely could it has a year around temperature of about 48 degrees and he pulled his…pulled himself out before he had gone in very far.


NR: Was this dangerous?


OK: oh there is no questions that it was…it was dangerous what he subsequently did uh just simply shoving his feet under and what not but he subsequently, swept in further and on about the third try he went under all the way and felt his way back uh into the spring.


NR: Did he have a rope?


OK: No, he had no rope. He was uh he was completely unprepared for what he was doing.


NR: You don’t recommend that do you?


OK: No. He has told me subsequently that he became disoriented while he was back in the cold water and instead of pushing his way back out he pushed his way farther in and luckily came up in a small room that was in back of the cliff. This room is about uh the size of an average living room. The floor was mud and the creek flowed through it. You can see…


NR: The walls are all rock?


OK: The walls and the celling were all rock uh its dimly lighted by water that refracts though the spring form the outside. Steve was able to dive back through he springs and come out in the spring guided by the light. So that was the discovery of the cold water cave. This was in the fall of 1967.


NR: They were still students at that time?


OK: They were university of Iowa geology students. They really just had no idea of what the extent of the cave might be after that initial dive. So they went back to Iowa city and acquired wet suites and scuba diving equipment. Air tanks and uh mask and all the necessary equipment for diving under water. sometime later they went back to the cave, probably in the early spring of 1968 and made an exploratory dive with their air tanks. They pushed their way through a series of rooms over perhaps not even quarter mile of passage ways and then decided they had enough for that trip and came back out. On the third trip they want all the way in.


NR: Of the same year?


OK: Of the same year. On the third trip they went back still came out farther and came to a place where the ceiling of the cave gradually rolls up out of the water and by shouting and hearing well, listening for the returning echo they got the distinct impression that they were faced with very extensive cavern. They used up their air or as much as their air that they dared to use and came back out. I first learned about the cave that spring, in the spring of 1968 when I  a companied a group of the University of Iowa geology students and instructors on a field trip down the Grand Canyon. Dave Yagno was one of those students and as we were walking down the Chi bath (?) trail into the depths of the canyon he told me of the discovery of Coldwater cave and I immediately asked them to take me in when he and Steve were ready to make a public announcement of it. Dave promised that he would. Sometime later that ..that summer and fall the two boys went into the cave again and took extensive photographs of some of the formations.


NR: Their still not in the public?


OK: Right. The the whole thing has…was still a well kept secret. On one trip they stayed in for 72 hours and explored the entire length of the cave as far as they could go with is about 3 1/2 miles and took pictures along the way and made a survey with a campus and tape. It was incredible, not only to stay in that cold as long as they did but also to take decent photographs and make a survey that later proved to be remarkably accurate.


NR: Uh, how were they financing these activities?


OK: well, there was very little money to be spent. They brought their scuba equipment so the only expense was their travel expense to the spring which they did in a old car and the expense of food and film and things like that. So they could operate pretty cheaply.  When they came out after this three-day expedition both were feverish and had an extensive skin rash but they were completely elated because they knew that they had achieved the goal that they had set out find and that was to find a large extensive cave system in Iowa. On my part I started taking scuba lessons at the YMCA, here is Des Moines, to prepare myself for going into the cave. I just practiced at the bottom of the Y pool, I rented my scuba equipment. Finally, in the fall of 1969, I believe it was October 5th 1969 on a Saturday…the two boys agreed to take me.  We met at the little park uh at Cold Water Spring and changed into out wet suites.


NR: Just you three?


OK: Actually there was four of us. There was Dave Yagno and Steve Barnett and another boy Tom Egurt who was from Southern Illinois University. He was also a caver and he express an interest in going along so there was four of us. It was a beautiful fall day the leaves  were starting to turn sun was out warm, absolutely beautiful time to be in that part of the state. We went into the spring, about noon, Dave went first to kind of guide the away and then I followed. It was a matter of lying flat at the base of the cliff, right in the spring water as it came out, and then rolling under the cliff in order to get past the lip, then swimming a few shorts strokes. Then I came up in the small room that was behind the cliff. The sensation was just fantastic.


NR: Not claustrophobia?


OK: No, that never has particularly bothered me. Iit was like, just the blink of an eye I had gone from this beautiful fall day outside to what I considered then to be a spectacular cave…actually, that small room was very unspectacular but nevertheless I was just..I was also overwhelmed by the experience of ducking under water then coming back out inside this cave. Then over the next hours we worked our way back through the underwater passages the boys had extended a nylon cord through the first part of underwater passes and we could fall that underwater. We were equipped with underwater electric flashlights so that at least the first man in line could see where you were going because the water was clear. He would muddy up the water, so nobody behind him could see. But uh, after that first room…


NR: So you were completely underwater?


OK: Well ya, after the first room we went back under again and went back through a passage of about hundred yards and then came up into, what they called, the “L” shaped room. Which was a larger room compared to the first and it had a bend in it, an L and then we ducked back under again and went along for perhaps 200 yards under water.  We came up in the third room which was called the “Breakdown” room because there was large slabs of ceiling that had fallen down so, we had to crawl under those. Then it was back underwater again for a much longer stretch until finally the ceiling gradually came up out of the water. We switched from air tanks to snorkel. There’s about inch of air space between the ceiling and the water which we could utilize that with snorkel tubes in order to conserve air in the tanks. After about another 100 yards the ceiling was high enough to stand up and we came to a place with a small side passage and here we left the air tanks and proceed with just our wet suites. Uh, almost immediately we came to a huge stalagmite that extended out of a hole in the ceiling. It appeared to me to be about a full 20 feet long. It was quite like a giant tooth extending out and it hung directly over the creek. This was the first large formation that I saw. Gradually we worked our way upstream some places we had to climb over rocks. In other places the water was so deep that we had to swim. We came to a another small passage where a small sparkling stream spilled out over a four foot waterfall. I ask the boys if they had explored that and they said they hadn’t had the time to. So, I asked if I could go in. There is thrill that is hard to express in words of being the first person to enter a place like that…being the first one to see what’s there. Its something I’ll never forget. I was able first to walk back through this side passage. Then I came to a rock formation which resembled a curtain that was parted in the middle. I was able to crawl under that and the passage then started to narrow and I had to crawl for a considering distance. Eventually it got so narrow that I wormed my way through my stomach and decided I would come back out. I…I backed out until I could turn around and then walk back.


NR: So, your connection with the other three was with a rope? Or was there even any connection?


OK: Oh! There was well..I think… because I remember Dave followed me into that passage for a distance but, uh, other than that there was no particular connection. Then let me see, then Dave and I went on up the main passenger and Steve and Tom decided that they would explore the side passage a little further. So, Dave and I proceeded up the main passage to a place that they had dug their campsite because they spent two nights they’re on their long trip and Dave wanted to take some pictures there. so we set up his camera equipment witch he had carried in two waterproof boxes and proceeded to take some color photographs of the formations there. This is the place where there is a quite a long stalagmite that extends down from the ceiling. It is white and comes about a half an inch from a stalagmite that is growing up from the rock floor.


NR: What kind rock is this? Is it lime stone?


OK: Well, these formations are basically calcite, calcite crystals, the..the rock walls themselves are lime stone. I was particularly struck by this stalagmite because it had grown so close together but had not meet the other formation growing up from the floor. We were joined, after a short while, by the other two and went on up the passage way for about perhaps another quarter mile to a place where there were, what the boys called “dome pits,” they are these domes…sort of holes in the ceiling, um, where the rock eroded away. This was about as far as I went in the cave on that day. Then we…we came back out and uh, the cold was beginning to get to me as we started back out, As we got back down to the air tanks I was getting quite chilly and then with the having do go back underwater I finally got so cold my teeth started chattering SO hard that I couldn’t hold the mouthpiece of my scuba gear anymore. I had to hold it in with my hand and when we finally got to that last room it was almost all I could do, uh, to force my way underwater and back out to the outside. We had been in for12 hours it was midnight when we came out. it was a beautiful warm night. the stars were out uh, it seemed liked the warmth of spring after being in the cold dampness of the cave. The sensation that I most vividly remember was the smell of farm…farm animals that pervaded the air. I was simply not conscious of the smell in the state at other times but I had been in an atmosphere that was completely cut off from the outside and the smell was just extremely strong coming back out. It was an extremely pleasant smell.


NR: How did the public find out about this cave that you and University of Iowa students had uncovered?

OK: Well, I went back to Des Moines and wrote up the experience for an article in picture magazine and use the Yago’s photographs to illustrate. The article appeared in December of 1969 and that was the first public announcement of the caves discovered. Then various official agencies immediately got involved. The state preserves board first thought that the cave could be protected by making it… by declaring it a state preserve. Then the conservation commission became interested. Steve and Dave finally made a presentation to the state legislature in the spring of 1970. They showed the pictures on a big screen in the house chamber.


NR: These are nonmoving pictures?


OK: They are color slides.


NR: Yah. Ok.


OK: The legislature eventually made an appropriation of $75,000 for further exploration of the cave and it was decided to put it under the jurisdiction of the Iowa Geological survey. The survey purposed a scientific exploration of the cave over a period of three years. For that purpose they dug or cut an entrance shaft into the upper end of the cave so that the scientists have an easier access to they by going under water. This shaft that is about 30 inches in diameter hundred feet deep was cut on the farm of Kenneth Flatland. The Survey entered a contract with the Flatland paying him $5000 over a three-year period for an easement to two acres of land surrounding the shaft and the shat itself.


NR: Had he been farming this land?


OK: Yah the place where the shaft is located was pretty much in the center of a cornfield. It is in a small, shallow valley where the hills dipped down. The survey officials had determined through resistivity meetings that the shaft was approximately located in that…in that shallow Valley. They drilled three standard well holes’ down through the rock. On the first one they hit a very small void only about 6 inches. They moved location about 15 feet to the South drilled again and hit a void of about 4 feet and moved to the South again, about another 15 feet. On the third try the drill bit came out right in the cave itself. They were able to lower a special TV camera down the hole to determine that had, in fact, hit the cave passage way. On that basis they drilled the 30-inch diameter shaft. An aluminum lander bolted to the side of the shaft so you can climb down and climb back up. They also made a cast iron plate to close it off with. With compete of that shaft scientific exploration began and various scientist in the state summited projects they thought would be worth while. Dr. Christianson of Grinnell made an extensive study of insects and mold spores that might be found in the cave. The atmosphere was investigated. The purity of the water was investigated. The temperatures were taken barometric pressure. all things like that. The rising and fall of the water.

NR: Did you they find anything that could have told the age? The age of the cave?


OK: they took either two or three rock samples samples of formations found in the cave and analyzed them for age determination and as I recall the oldest one dated back about 80,000 years. However there is no doubt that the age of the cave itself is considerably old that older then that. It could go back several million. There seems to be good evidence that the extensive mud banks that line passageway in someplace maybe left over from the last glacial episode here in Iowa. When the glaciers melted a considerable amount of water entered the cave and carried mud in with it, depositing the mud along the banks. As the water recede the mud was left there. Some of these ancient mud banks have been complete covered over with flow streams that are up to an inch thick the mud has been there at least the length of time it would take for that flow stream to be deposited, at least several thousand years.


NR: So your saying that they are still conducting experiments?


OK: No, not anymore.


NR: What is the status now?


OK: Well, after…well during the research phase the governor Ray made a trip into the cave. Several other dignitaries went in and then in January of 1975 the three year exploratory period was up. With the agreement with the Flatlands, the shaft and the land around it reverted back to him that is the status of the cave now. Mr. and Mrs. Flatland have complete control of the shaft now.


NR: How is that named Spelled?


OK: It’s F-L-A-T-L-A-N-D. They have taken a very responsible attitude towards the cave. They went thought great pains to preserve formations in it, but the state has no control over it anymore. The geological survey before the lease labs conducted a study to try and determine how much it would cost to developed cave as a public facility. The cost came to…the range was for about 1 million.3 dollars to develop about a half mile passage way for the public. So far no action has been taken to initiate this project no funds have been sought. (35:54) The case is simply almost back to where it was and except there was an this infinshaft on the land.


NR: Has there been any formal recommendation?


Ok: no, no there has been no formal declaration, uh what would be needed would be for the states conservation commission to draw up a plan for it development and present it to the legislator along with a request for an appropriation and the conservation commission so far has not taken the interest necessary to do this.


NR: What is you personal view to give the public accesses?


Well I think so! The alternative would be either to shut the cave up again completely. To shut the shaft and let the cave revert to his status it was before it was discovered or to developed it as a public facility, at least develop part of it for the public and the third alternative would be a commercial development which I’m convinced would eventually ruin the cave. If it’s developed for the public the conservation commission would then have to drill two elevator shafts at either end of the stretch that thy want to develop and then they will probably have to suspend a passageway along the cave passage…up and out of the reach of any floodwaters that might flow through it, along where the public could walk.


NR:Is this cave specifically unique to Iowa? Or are there others?


OK: Iowa does have more caves in this general area. However, none of them come even close to being as spectacular, large and beautiful as Cold Water Cave is. It is in that respect it is absolutely unique to this part of the state and really to this area of the Midwest.


NR: Do you know what plans a Flatlands have?


OK:  I don’t think the Flatlands have any particular plans for it. They are more or less waiting for the state to take some action.


NR: You also helped on the Bertrand. Hasn’t it been in the bottom of the Missouri River for someone one hundred years?


OK: The Bertrand was during a Missouri River paddle year…the turn of the year…in the spring of 1865 she was making her first voyage up the Missouri River to resupply the gold mining camps in Montana. It was not only the Bertrand first trip up the river she was also the first boat to fully make it up the river that year.  The Bertrand was about 162 feet long about 30 feet wide and had a hold that was about 5 feet deep. she was very solidly constructed out of the cotton wood planks that were about some 4 inches thick along the bottom. She had been built the year before in Venice West Virginia and had floated down the Ohio and then off to Mississippi then to St. Louis where she picked up the cargo for Montana. She made her way up Missouri with a list of about 22 passengers, several crewmen and the caption. On April 1, 1865 as she was rounding DeSoto band, she struck a snag that ripped open her bow and she sank almost immediately. The story goes that the passengers and crew reach the little village called, DeSoto Landing the inhabitants there first refused to believe that we from a shipwreck because it was April fools day. But, the ship had sunk and probably…she rested on the bottom of the Missouri but its probable that her super structure, the pilot house and the smoke stack, still protruded form the water.


NR: Was it on the Nebraska side or the Iowa side of the Missouri river? Or was it in the middle?


OK: Well, its hard. It was right in the channel. She probably came to rest crosswise in the channel. Over the passage of time the rive had shifted its course many times. So the Bertrand haul became covered in sand and her location was eventually forgotten. But the story of the Bertrand had not been forgotten. The story had it that she carried a treasure of several hundred bottles of valuable Mercury that was suppose to be in separate any the gold found in the mining camps. Plus, her caption was suppose to have had something like $40,000 in gold and gold coin on the trip. She was also said to have had a valuable cargo of whiskey bottle…of whisky kegs, barrels. So in the ensuing years several attempts were made to find the Bertrand. None was successful until early spring of 1968 when two Omaha entrepreneurs, Sam Corbino and Jessie Pursell, drilled down through the sand and gravel, that is the DeSato National Wildlife Refuge. The dill bit brought up raw pieces of glass metal and wood. The took this as an indication that they found the boat and entered into a contract with the US General service administration under which Purcell and Corvino gets 60% of any mercury, gold or whiskey that they found.


NR: These Omaha men were to have 60% of what they found?


OK: No, just 60% of the so-called treasure load, the mercury, gold and whisky. The rest of the cargo, whatever was found, was to go to the government of the united states since the boat had been found on US property in the National Wildlife Refuge. So during the in the spring and summer of 1968, Corbino and Pursell brought in heavy equipment; drag lines and bulldozers. They gradually cleared off the over burned until 28 feet below the surface they came upon the haul of the boat itself. They installed two powerful deasil pumps that were need to keep the water tabled down to that level otherwise the pit would be flooded. These pumps had to be working continuously during the entire exploration. The first evidence that they actually have discovered the Bertrand came when they uncovered some boxes, wooden boxes, that were labeled “Stores Bertrand.” These boxes contain items for the crew.


NR: This is all public knowledge? What they found?


OK: Oh yeah, there was no secrecy involved in the in the excavation. It was all done in the opened and the wildlife refuge administration constructed a lookout for the public could see what was going on down below. The pit that the two-men dug extended considerably beyond the dimensions of the boat of coarse, in order to prevent land slides. They uncovered the bow first and gradually stripped the planking from the haul and started taking out the cargo. The excavation was under the direction of the National Park Survive. The Park Serves supervise the entire operation and controlled how it was handled so the cargo would be damaged as little as possible.


NR: The money all came form the two men?


OK: The two men put all the money into the excavation and the overall amount at the end was over some $100,000 dollars. They worked through out the summer and fall of 1968 then had to stop for the winter and picked up in the spring of 1969 and were able to complete the excavation late in the fall of 1969. A fantastic amount of cargo was taken from haul of the boat. Almost all of it in excelling condition. The cargo had been packed for the most part in wooden boxes, very carefully packed, they were staked very carefully in the the haul and when the boat sank the haul was covered over in  airtight mud and then sand and gravel. The mud effectively sealed out the oxygen that would have caused the cargo to decompose. The cargo, although water soaked, was in remarkably good condition. To give you an idea of what sort of things were found in the cargo, a list of the content reads something like this, all manner of food stuff and that would run from olive oil and olives to tomato preserves and corn and even shelled peanuts.


NR: These were canned (retail?) ? 49:40


OK: Well some of them were canned and the others…for instance, they found bunches of grape steams that just apparently been loose, so there were fresh grapes apparently. Perhaps they were raisin that were on the stems. The raisin had disappeared but the stems were there and they found the shells but no peanuts.


NR: What was the thought during this time when theses things were discovered? Did they have any value?


OK: Oh, the park service realized immediately that these items would have tremendous value, not only as antiques but as key items in the “Turning Age” that age of…of other similar items that have been found in other circumstance but whose age was not accurately known. There was found for instance, some 400 cases of medicinal bitters known as Doctor (Hossisters ?) bitters. This was a medicine with a very high alcoholic content so high that I could actually, probably, be classified as whisky but classifying it as bitters, the makers could not only sell it to the Indians but also could avoid liquor taxes. The bottles in which the bitters were kept are probably worth upwards of $50 each now, as antiques, because the authenticity of all of this cargo is actually proven. Nobody can doubt the authenticity of what was found on the Bertrand as you might be about doubting a bottle that you might pick up form an auction. So the Smithsonian Intuition and museums all around the country were very much interested what was being found on the Bertrand.


NR: Did the Smithsonian send people out?


OK: The Smithsonian sent people out to watch the excavation and to get some ideas of what the cargo was consisting of. Various Institutions of Higher Learning had people there, Iowa State University had people participating in the excavation. University of Iowa had some people there and there was a good deal interest form the scientific community at the Bertrand excavation. The list of contents would go on… of coarse they found the liquored and the patent medicine. They found textiles, wearing apparel, sewing supplies. Some of these consisted of silk, braid, burlap bags, buttons, boots, coats, dresses needles, nettings, pins, piping, sweaters, table cloths and…


NR: how about bars of gold?


OK: No bars of gold.


NR: How about mercury?


OK: I’ll come to the mercury in a minute. There was mining supplies such as blasting powered, and detonating devise. Pick axes and shovels and all manner of hardware…all the tools that people in the mining camps might want to buy.  Lots of miscellaneous cargo and then all the hundreds of bottles of the medicinal bitters. So the cargo was just almost like a time capsule that had laid dormant for about 100 years and then suddenly came to life. Suddenly we had, here, a collection of priceless artifacts from a time…well the Bertrand sunk just two weeks before Abraham was assassinated so it goes back to that time in our history. Iowa was still a very young state. So the excavation was then completed in the Fall of 1969. It came to its end with out finding any significate treasure like the story suggested except for 9 bottles of mercury. It was packed in cast iron containers that weighed 75 lbs. each. These 9 bottles of mercury were the only thing left that Pursell and Sam Corbino wanted to find. In an effect they were left holding the bottles and the United States government got all the cargo everything that was worth real value. The textiles and some of the bottles and everything else that was found.


NR: But, had a decision been made at this time, after the excavation end, of what would be done with the material the the government now owns?


OK: No. That was on of the big faults of the excavation. Everyone was solely interested in the discovery that little thought was given to what would become of it after it was dug out. It was with great difficulty that the US fish and wildlife service would operate to refute the data to obtain enough money to build a temporary laboratory and storage facticity on the refuge grounds. In this building they subjected the cargo though a preservation process that for the most part was very effect… at least it stabilized the condition of the materials They were able to preserves such stuff like axe handles, leather, the textiles. There were different methods used to stabilize the material. The wood for instance, of coarse was completely water logged, and if it had been allowed to dry out it would have disintegrated into little pieces. What they did was dry the wood…well they didn’t dry it, they immersed it a bath of wax like liquid. As the water went out it the wax like substance anchored into the pours of the wood. Replacing the water. When the wood then was exposed to air it couldn’t dry out any further.


NR: Didn’t the government bring in experts?


OK: Yah, they brought in some people form places as far away as Arizona and Alaska. Who had experience in this type of preservation process. Although a good bit of the process used was necessary experimental because nobody had encountered a cargo of this magnitude before. The cargo was then stored wrapped plastic on shelves in the laboratory on refuge ground and that’s were it remains today.


NR: You said in your story that Smithsonian wanted some of it. It doesn’t seem like the Iowa people had much say in it?


OK: That’s right.  The cargo was so valuable that the both the U.S. Park Service and the Smithsonian made repeated efforts to require at least some parts of it to use of their own purposes. One plan was to divide the cargo into various collections. One collection would consist of the best article in each category. The Smithsonian wanted to get this, Then the reaming articles would be divided between among, lets say, US Park Service and other museums in Iowa and Nebraska. Both the states of Nebraska and Iowa fought this plan with considerable vigor and thus so far have succeeded. Senator Culver had, in the last several months, taken a deep interest in the excavation. He has made a secure promise that the Fish and Wildlife Service will devote about $100,000 of the 1976 procreation to the protection of the cargo from the Bertrand and eventually constructing a suitable museum for its display on the ground at the refuge.



NR: Well I see you’re a respected man and know lot about science.  What do you think about the end result of a museum?


OK: Oh I think with no question that the display of the Bertram artifacts on the DeSoto refuge would be a tourist attraction. It would be the finish thing in western Iowa and Nebraska has had. The refigure lies 5 miles west of interstate 29 and lies immediately US highway 30 so its very easily assessable by car and easily found by tourist if a suitable museum was built for the display of not only the artifacts but perhaps models of the Bertrand before she sank and what the entire area looked like at the time of the sinking.


NR: What out the two young men that found the Bertrand?


OK: Pursell and Sam Corbino have, so far, been the loser in this entire process. Representative Sheryl had made some efforts to get some reimbursement for them but was never able to do it. They finally went to the federal court in Omaha with a claim to the bottles of the medicinal bitters on the ground that the bitters actually were whisky disguised. The matter is still in court. They would have had control over the entire cargo if it had not been discovered by chance on refuge ground on federal land.  The refuge came into being when the Army Core of Engineers had straightened the Missouri River back in the early 1950s.


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