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Hundreds of Shipwrecks Revealed in Lake Michigan as Water Clears

The crystal clear waters of Lake Michigan have recently revealed hundreds of shipwrecks lying on the sandy bottom. Unfortunately, a great amount of them still remain unidentified.

This series of spectacular photographs provided to us by the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station in Traverse City Facebook page are  absolutely breathtaking.

Left: The 121-foot brig James McBride, which sunk in 1848. Right: Two sunken ships – one just visible in the lower right, the other clear in the upper left. (U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City )

These photos taken near Sleeping Bear Point, known differently as the Manitou Passage Underwater Preserve, show a shipping area where ships sought safety from storms. Now, this Manitou Passage is considered to be one of the richest ones for shipwreck diving.

Left: A wreck in shallow water below cliffs. Right: Another unidentified wreck spotted in Lake Michigan (U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City )

“Not much is known about most of the wrecks,” reports Susan Cosier, writing for  On Earth “but they do include one doomed vessel, the James McBride, which was thought to be the first to carry cargo from the Atlantic Ocean to Lake Michigan in 1848.”

When European explorations began in the late 17th century, Lake Michigan was a place where thousands of ships sank while traversing the Great Lakes. Now, the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum has around 6,000 lost ships in its collection.

Map of the shipwrecks in the Great Storm of 1913 ( Wikimedia Commons )

“Littered on the bottom of the Great Lakes are the remains of more than 6,000 shipwrecks gone missing on the Great Lakes since the late 1600s when the first commercial sailing ships began plying the region, most during the heyday of commercial shipping in the nineteenth century,” reports Michigan Shipwreck Research Association . “The vast expanse of these inland waterways provided a natural transportation system linking the Midwestern states and portions of Canada to the rest of the world.”

“The Griffin sailed for the Niagara September 18,”  History of the Great Lakes  says. “A favorable wind bore her from the harbor, and with a single gun she bade adieu to her enterprising builder, who never saw her again. She bore a cargo, valued with the vessel at fifty or sixty thousand francs [in furs], obtained at great sacrifice of time and treasure. She was placed under the command of the pilot, Luc, assisted by a supercargo and five good sailors, with directions to call at Mickili-mackinac, and from thence proceed to the Niagara. Nothing more was heard of her.”

Featured image: Father Louis Hennepin’s woodcut of the Griffin ( Wikimedia Commons image )

The Michigan Shipwreck Research Association has concluded that the Great Lakes are possibly some of the most dangerous waters in the world.

“Sudden storms, fire, and fog have resulted in the destruction of these many thousands of vessels… Several hundred of these vessels—mostly hard-to-maneuver sailing crafts—have been the victims of the raging winds and currents that pounded them into kindling along shore. However, many hundreds more were lost in deep water far offshore. To date, only some 300 shipwrecks have been found beyond the surf line in Lake Michigan within the state waters of Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan. Many more await discovery.”

One of the shipwrecks in Lake Michigan visited by divers, the F. T. Barney, 1856 ( Wikimedia Commons )

HT: Ancient Origins

Written by Catherine

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