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Great Lakes Shipwreck News & Rumor Spring 2004
By Brendon Baillod
This spring has been a bit slower than normal for shipwreck discoveries, but many interesting events transpired across the Lakes. Work continues to identify the Manitowoc mystery schooner. Initial dives and photography suggest she is a small schooner of very early build, possibly 1830s vintage. Further work is planned this summer to gather accurate dimensions in order to make an identification.
Chuck Larsen of Ocean Sands Scuba in Holland, Michigan announced the discovery of three new wrecks last year. One of the wrecks has been determined to be a large late 19th century schooner. Leading candidates for her ID include the Thomas Hume, which vanished in 1891 without a trace bound Chicago to Muskegon.
Wreck and dive enthusiasts in western Michigan are working to establish an underwater preserve that would feature vessels intentionally sunk as dive attractions. The preserve would not fall under the same designation as existing preserves and may require new legislation to bring it into existence.
The NOAA Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve is continuing work to identify the new wreck located during the survey work conducted by Bob Ballard and the Institute for Exploration in 2002. One of the wrecks is reportedly an upright, intact schooner thought to be the Marion Egan. It was initially reported that Ballard had located three new wrecks, but two of them are now known to have been previously located.
Milwaukee Charter Captain Jerry Guyer has been busy with a new side scan sonar and has discovered 4 new wrecks in the Milwaukee area. Some of the wrecks are in very deep water and some are quite shallow. Jerry is still working to identify the wrecks in question and will not be chartering to them this season.
A new wreck has been located off the south side of Door County. The remains of a schooner that appears to have been used in the stone trade have been located in 110 ft. of water. The wreck remains unidentified and is partially buried in the bottom.
Underwater Research Associates continued work on their 2003 discovery of the Frank H. Goodyear. The group located human remains on the stern of the Goodyear during their filming and survey work. In May of 2003, URA also located the bark Massilon, which foundered off Pt. Aux Barques in 1876. She is partially broken but lies at a depth accessible to most sport divers.
Beachcomber Dave Miesch continues to turn up new keels and ribs off the beaches of western Michigan. Miesch has reported the remains of a vessel at the old site of Lee's Pier at Stoney Lake.
The remains of a schooner that has lain on the beach at Big Sable Point, north of Ludington, Michigan for many years was examined by Pat Labadie and Wayne Lusardi from the Thunder Bay NMS this spring. Preliminary examination indicates that she may be the schooner George F. Foster, which wrecked on Big Sable in October of 1870. The wreck had previously been thought to be that of the little schooner May Cornell, which wrecked in the area but was recovered.
Low water levels continue to uncover new historic shipwrecks around the Lakes. On Lake Huron, the oldest discovered wreck to date has been located. The schooner Weazel, built in 1786 for John Askin, wrecked near Southampton, Ontario in 1803. Her remains were first spotted in 2001 and are now being examined by archeologists and historians.
A unique project is underway at Whitefish Point, Lake Superior to document some of the area's most interesting shipwrecks. The grant funded project with create underwater site maps, underwater perspective drawings and artistic "in life" renderings of the Vienna, Osborn, Mather, Comet and possibly other wrecks. The project is being coordinated through the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, which is surveying the wrecks with the research vessel David Boyd. Noted artists and historians including C. Patrick Labadie and Robert McGreevy will be doing the artwork.
The barge found embedded in the side of the St. Clair River near Port Huron remains unidentified. She is now believed to have been abandoned where she lies and has proven difficult to ID.
The Great Lakes Historical Society continues work on the new Peachman Lake Erie Shipwreck Center. The center is facilitating a number of important survey projects through MAST (Maritime Archeological Survey Team), including a survey of the barge Craftsman, lost in 1958. MAST members Georgann and Mike Wachter have visited three newly discovered Lake Erie shipwrecks this year, including the barge King Coal/Esco, sunk off Perry, Ohio, the barge Detroiter in western Lake Erie and a large unidentified schooner.
A correction to the last News & Rumor column is in order. It was inaccurately reported that divers had stolen an anchor from the schooner Maggie L. off Clayton, NY. The anchor in question did not come from the Maggie L. Her anchor was allegedly removed in 1973.
Great Lakes videographer Ric Mixter has released a new documentary, Final Run, in which he covers all the major storms and shipwrecks on the Lakes in the 20th century. Mixter interviews survivors from all the storms and all the major wrecks. The documentary is a must-have for Great Lakes wreck historians.
Discovery Channel is currently airing Shipwrecked: Rage of the Great Lakes, a documentary covering the Eastland, Fitz, Lady Elgin, Griffon and Morrell. It features many people who frequent this website. See Discovery.com for times.
If you have a piece of news related to Great Lakes shipwrecks that you'd like included here, please email Brendon Baillod (Brendon@ship-wreck.com). I do not include any information in this column without first obtaining permission to release it