A ‘Routine’ Mission by a Coast Guard Chopper Turned Up Some Historical Finds at the Bottom of Lake Michigan

The icy cap near THE shoreline of Lake Michigan has melted, leaving frigid but crystal-clear waters.

On a routine helicopter flight over the lake near Sleeping Bear Dunes, the Traverse City-based Northern Michigan Coast Guard got a good view of some of the shipwrecks preserved in the freshwater below.

“We can call it ‘Shipwreck Sunday,'” the Coast Guard wrote on Facebook. “With Lake Michigan ice gone for the season the crystal clear, deep blue waters of northern Michigan are back (albeit still VERY VERY cold at an average of 38 degrees).

“During a routine patrol this past Friday, an aircrew captured these photos of a handful of the many shipwrecks along the Lake Michigan shoreline. These photos were taken near Sleeping Bear Point northeast along the shoreline to Leland, Michigan up to Northport.”

According to the Coast Guard, this ship was  The 121 foot brig James McBride ran aground during a storm on October 19, 1857. Her remains lie in 5 to 15 feet of water near Sleeping Bear Point. The James McBride was built as a brig and measured 121 feet in length with a beam of 25 feet. She was launched April fool’s day 1848. Late in 1848, the McBride sailed to the Atlantic Ocean to pick up a cargo of salt at Turk Island. On her return she stopped at Nova Scotia and added codfish to her manifest. She delivered her cargo to Chicago on December 4, 1848. This trip created a sensation because it was believed to be the first cargo carried direct from the Atlantic to a Lake Michigan port.
According to the Coast Guard, this ship was brought into shallow water and never got out in 1857. (Image source: U.S. Coast Guard Air Station/Traverse City)
Here the This 133 foot long wooden steamer stranded just north of Pyramid Point on October 29, 1917. She went to pieces and her wreckage now rests in 6 to 12 feet of water. (Image source: U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City/Facebook)
Here the 133-foot-long “Rising Sun” was sunk on 1917. (Image source: U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City/Facebook)
Image source: U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City/Facebook
Image source: U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City/Facebook
Image source: U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City/Facebook
Image source: U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City/Facebook

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which protects many of the shipwrecks in the Great Lakes, the cold, fresh water is idea for preserving both wood and metal vessels.

Given how shallow these shipwrecks are, they sometimes become more or less visible due to depth of the lake at the time and sand movement.

“The water levels change, the lakeshore’s currents change, storms come along and the beach gets eroded, and those things are here or they are offshore and sometimes they come ashore,” Laura Quackenbush with the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore told Up North Live after a fragment of the Jennie and Annie Schooner was unearthed.

Mark Lindsay, who stumbled upon large piece of the ship in 2012, said it just came up again this year. He told the Detroit Free Press he hopes it will eventually go “back out into the water, because that’s where it belongs.”

“The people who passed away and who perished,” he said. “It’s kind of like their burial ground out there, you know what I mean? It needs to stay out there with them. And there’s so many in that passage that have went down.”

(H/T: MLive)

This post has been updated to include more information.

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