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.
DETROIT (AP) – Tests performed at the bottom of northern Lake Michigan have provided enough evidence for researchers to recommend an excavation of the site of a shipwreck to determine if it’s the Griffin, a French vessel that was loaded with furs when it sank in 1679, the project’s lead investigator said Monday.
Sonar scans of the lake bottom and profiling below it showed a mass consistent with other images of a buried ship hull, said Ken Vrana, director of the Laingsburg-based Center for Maritime and Underwater Resource Management.
“The consensus among the professionals … who have reviewed the data so far is that this site does warrant a test excavation,” Read more.
A 60-foot, single-masted sloop dating back to perhaps the 1830s has been discovered in Lake Michigan.
Holland-based Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates made the discovery at about 250 feet down between Saugatuck and South Haven, Mich. The group worked in collaboration with author Clive Cussler and his sonar operator Ralph Wilbanks of the National Underwater & Marine Agency (NUMA).
At the time of the discovery, the group was searching for the remnants of Northwest Airlines Flight 2501, which crashed into the lake in 1950, killing 58 people.
During an exploratory dive to the wreck, MSRA made note of three features that are significantly different from sailing vessels dating to the mid- and late-19th century: the lack of a centerboard, the presence of a raised afterdeck and deadlights (a pair of openings) in the stern that allowed light to reach the cargo hold. Read more.