18th Century cannon found in Detroit River restored, on display

Detroit Police Department divers found the cannon six metres — or 20 feet — underwater during a training exercise behind Detroit's Cobo Center in July 2011.
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      An 18th Century British cannon recovered from the bottom of the Detroit River in October 2011 has been restored.

      It will be unveiled Wednesday afternoon at the Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Belle Isle in Detroit. It will be on public display this weekend.

      Detroit Police Department divers found the cannon six metres — or 20 feet — underwater during a training exercise  behind Detroit's Cobo Center in July 2011.

      It is likely the weapon was used in various conflicts, eventually finding its way to Fort Lernoult in Detroit. When the British abandoned Detroit in 1796, rather than leave it to the Native Americans or Americans, troops were ordered to destroy them.

      From the fort, soldiers moved the cannon down to the riverbank, near the site of present-day Cobo Hall. Speculation is they slid this gun, along with five others, onto the winter ice. When the ice thawed, the cannons sank, where they remained for more than 200 years.

      Police raised the in October 2011. That's when Detroit Historical Society Senior Curator Joel Stone and the team at the Society’s Collections Resource Center got to work. The cannon first went into wet storage until a conservation protocol was established with the assistance of maritime archaeologist Dan Harrison.

      Restoration work began at the Cranbrook Institute of Science in 2013, where the cannon was put on public display for a special exhibit. 

      During the restoration process, the cannon’s past started to become clear. The barrel was embossed with the crest of King George II, who reigned from 1727-1760.  Additionally, it was marked with a “P”, an “X” and an “M.”  The “P” indicates approval from a civilian approval board, and the “X” is a failure mark by the military ordinance board; while the “M” stands for Mangles, the arms dealer that sold the cannon. 

      On the right trunnion, an “H” was discovered by a group of children working with toothbrushes at Cranbrook.  This represents the Hamsell Furnaces of East Sussex, England, where the cannon was manufactured by hand in the mid-1740s.


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