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A debris field at the bottom of Lake Michigan may be the remains of the long-lost Griffin, a vessel commanded by a 17th-century French explorer, said a shipwreck hunter who has sought the wreckage for decades.

Steve Libert told The Associated Press that his crew found the debris this month about 120 feet (36 meters) from the spot where they removed a wooden slab a year ago that was protruding from the lake bottom. Libert believes that timber was the bowsprit of Rene-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle’s ship, although scientists who joined the 2013 expedition say the slab more likely was an abandoned fishing net stake.

"This is definitely the Griffin—I’m 99.9 percent sure it is," Libert said. "This is the real deal." Read more.

Explorers who removed a wooden slab from Lake Michigan this summer are taking an unusual step to determine whether it could have come from the Griffin, a long-lost vessel from the 17th century.

The nearly 20-foot-long timber will undergo a CT scan Saturday at Otsego Memorial Hospital in Gaylord.

The scan will produce images of the beam’s interior, including tree rings. An expert with Cornell University in New York hopes to analyze the ring patterns and estimate the timber’s age and when it was cut down.

The Griffin was commanded by French explorer La Salle and disappeared in 1679.

Expedition leader Steve Libert says if the wooden beam dates from that period, it probably came from the Griffin. State officials say they’re not convinced it’s from a ship. (source)

A wooden beam that has long been the focus of the search for a 17th century shipwreck in northern Lake Michigan was not attached to a buried vessel as searchers had suspected, but still may have come from the elusive Griffin or some other ship, archaeologists said Wednesday.

Shipwreck hunter Steve Libert discovered a 10.5-foot section of the timber jutting from the lake bed twelve years ago in an area where he was convinced that the Griffin, commanded by the French explorer Rene Robert Cavelier de la Salle, sank in 1679. French experts who inspected the beam in recent days said it appeared to be a bowsprit — a spur or pole that extends from a vessel’s stem — that was hundreds of years old. Read more.


FAIRPORT, Mich. — A wooden beam embedded at the bottom of northern Lake Michigan appears to have been there for centuries, underwater archaeologists announced Tuesday, a crucial finding as crews dig toward what they hope is the carcass of a French ship that disappeared while exploring the Great Lakes in the 17th century.

Expedition leaders still weren’t ready to declare they had found a shipwreck or the long-lost Griffin. The ship, commanded by the French explorer Rene Robert Cavelier de la Salle, was never seen again after setting sail in September 1679 from an island near the entrance of Green Bay, in what is now northern Wisconsin, with a crew of a six and a cargo of furs. Read more.

ON LAKE MICHIGAN NEAR POVERTY ISLAND, Mich. - Divers began opening an underwater pit Saturday at a remote site in northern Lake Michigan that they say could be the resting place of the Griffin, a ship commanded by the 17th century French explorer La Salle.

U.S. and French archaeologists examined sediment removed from a hole dug near a timber slab that expedition leader Steve Libert discovered wedged in the lakebed in 2001. They found a 15-inch slab of blackened wood that might have been a human-fashioned “cultural artifact,” although more analysis will be required to determine whether it was part of a vessel, project manager Ken Vrana said.

Libert, who has spent about three decades searching for the Griffin (also known by its French equivalent Le Griffon), said he hoped that by Sunday, the excavation would reach what sonar readings indicate is a distinct shape beneath several feet of sediment. Read more.

Under the sometimes murky waters of Lake Michigan lies a mostly unexplored layer of Northwest Indiana history.

The lake is home to dozens of shipwrecks, each telling a story.

"They tell us a lot of things. They show us about our culture, commerce and about early transportation," said Rick Jones, state archaeologist with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

Looking at the Great Lakes as a whole, there are some 5,000 shipwrecks, said Brad Bumgardner, interpretive naturalist with the Indiana Dunes State Park.

"That’s more than in the entire Bermuda Triangle," Bumgardner said.

About 25 percent of those shipwrecks lie within the waters of Lake Michigan.

Indiana’s movement to preserve its underwater history began in the 1980s when salvagers attempted to raise the wreck of the J.D. Marshall, which sank in 1911 off the shore of the Dunes State Park. Federal and state laws followed in the 1980s, protecting the shipwrecks from salvage operations by imposing fines and imprisonment for looting and vandalism. Read more.

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. — A shipwreck-exploring group has discovered what it believes is a 19th century vessel in western Michigan.

The Grand Rapids Press says the ship was found off the coast of Grand Haven in 350 feet of water and may be the St. Peter, a ship that sank in 1874 while delivering a load of wheat from Chicago to Buffalo, N.Y.

Divers discovered the 90-foot, two-masted schooner in October. Officials with the Michigan Shipwreck Research Association announced the find on Friday.

According to the crew, the St. Peter sank about 35 miles off the Milwaukee coast in Lake Michigan. All of them survived.

Members of MSRA plan to talk about the exploration during a presentation at the Knickerbocker Theatre in Holland on April 21. (source)

LEELANAU COUNTY — A substantial hull piece that shipwreck experts believe comes from the schooner Jennie and Annie, which sunk in the Manitou Passage in 1872, has washed up on a remote stretch of Lake Michigan beach north of Empire in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

The 140-year-old shipwreck piece was discovered by photographer Mark Lindsay of Kingsley, who was taking a walk through the dunes with his camera on Sunday morning when he came across the relic in the shoreline waves.

“I just happened upon it,” he said. “It was incredible.”

Sleeping Bear Dunes historians believe the schooner fragment, estimated to be about 40-feet long and peppered with twisted metals spikes, is part of the ship’s bilge keelsons, which the Oxford Handbook of Maritime Archeology says were long timbers running most of the ship’s length, strengthening the keel. Read more.