Kirkland author and KirklandViews.com contributor Matt McCauley will be the Kirkland Heritage Society’s featured speaker at its monthly meeting at 7 pm on March 30th in a program entitled, ‘A Look to the Past: Lake Washington.’ He will speak about the Lake’s history, with emphasis on its submerged ‘treasures.’
McCauley, 46, is a Kirkland native who moved to Mercer Island in 1976 and began SCUBA diving in Lake Washington in 1978. Through high school, McCauley explored the lake extensively, investigating the bottom near sites of historic interest, such as steamboat and ferry landings, hotels, sawmills and shipyards. While still a teenager, he began researching the history of the lake and the settlements on its shore.
He developed a fascination with the boat and WWII aircraft wrecks submerged in the lake as the result of activity associated with Naval Air Station Seattle at Sand Point and Boeing’s Renton facility. McCauley first gained international media attention in 1984 when he and high school classmate and diving partner Jeff Hummel located and salvaged the remains of a Curtiss SB2C-1A Helldiver/A-25A Shrike dive bomber on the bottom under 150 feet off Finn Hill’s Champagne Point .
In 1984, the US Navy files suit against the two teenage salvors (United States of America v. Jeffrey Kenneth Hummel and Matthew William McCauley, U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington at Seattle, Case No. C84-1058C). The case was adjudicated in 1985 and U.S. District Court Judge John C. Coughenour held in favor of McCauley and Hummel.
In 1987 McCauley and diving friends salvaged four more WWII combat aircraft from the Lake, the remains of two Curtiss SB2C ‘Helldiver’ dive bombers and two Grumman F4F ‘Wildcat’ fighters.
McCauley also gained attention for discovering the wrecks of the lake passenger steamboat ‘Dawn’ and the 1244 ton sailing ship ‘Fresno,’ among others.
McCauley has written about Kirkland and Lake Washington history since the early 1990s. He is an alumnus of Seattle University, where he majored in Journalism, and the Seattle University School of Law. He is a Kirkland Heritage Society Director At-Large. McCauley has authored the new book, A Look to the Past: Kirkland — From Wilderness to High Tech, Kirkland’s History in 50 Vignettes which is available at Parkplace Books.
The meeting is at Heritage Hall, 203 Market Street and the general public is encouraged to attend.