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Explorers find wreck of 19th-century NY ship

GENEVA — The wreck of a Civil War-era steamship that was intentionally blown up on one of New York’s Finger Lakes more than a century ago has been found, two Rochester area engineers-turned-explorers said Tuesday.

Jim Kennard, of Perinton, and Roger Pawlowski, of Gates, said they confirmed last week that the wreckage at the bottom of Seneca Lake is that of the Onondaga, a 175-foot paddle-wheeler that hauled freight and passengers.

In September 1898, the 38-year-old ship had outlived its usefulness and its owners decided to blow it up as a public spectacle. An estimated 5,000 people lined the shore as the stripped-down hull was scuttled with the explosion of 500 pounds of dynamite and 300 pounds of blasting powder.

Kennard said the wreck lies in 400 feet of water in the middle of the lake off Kashong Point, on the western shore eight miles south of Geneva.

He and Pawlowski, a former Air Force pilot, were searching for wrecks in Seneca Lake in 2010 when their sonar equipment caught a faint image of a shipwreck. They returned to the lake last week and used high-resolution side-scan sonar to get a better image of it. Kennard said the equipment accurately measured the length as about 175 feet long and 27 feet wide, the same dimensions as the Onondaga.