Ship Missing for 116 Years Shows Up on Sonar. A Crew Sent Down a Camera and Were Amazed at What They Saw.

A ship lost for 116 years in the depths of Lake Michigan has been discovered by a group of shipwreck hunters. It’s condition? Let’s put it this way: some of the glass was still in its windows.

The John V. Moran, a steamer on its way from Milwaukee to Muskegon, Michigan, went down on Feb. 12, 1899, after ice pierced its hull a few days earlier. According to the Grand Rapids Press, the crew and valuable goods on the ship were rescued before it foundered in the -30 degree weather.

The John V. Moran pictured in the late 1800s before it sank in Lake Michigan. (Image source: WZZM-TV)
The John V. Moran pictured in the late 1800s before it sank in Lake Michigan. (Image source: WZZM-TV)

The ship though was never seen again until June 5, 2015. Jeff Voss and other shipwreck hunters were on a week-long mission, combing a 10-square-mile area of the lake with sonar, when “boom.”

“There it was,” Voss told the Press. “The bottom out there is flat, and then this big image shows up on the print out.”

The team kept the discovery under wraps in order to be sure it was in fact the Moran, sending equipment down over 300 feet in the icy lake to get clearer images. Working with the Michigan State Police Underwater Recovery Unit and a camera-equipped submersible, they saw the ship underwater on July 8.

Image source: MLive
Image source: MLive
Image source: MLive
Image source: MLive
Image source: MLive
Image source: MLive

“Not a railing is missing,” Craig Rich, a co-director of the Michigan Shipwreck Research Association, told the Press, calling it one of the best preserved wrecks in the Great Lakes. “The mast is standing. The lights are standing. The anchors are in position. There’s even glass still in the windows.

“The only thing missing from this wreck is the smokestack,” he said.

See some of the footage in this video from the Press:

“There was this absolutely pristine, beautiful shipwreck sitting on the bottom,” Rich told WZZM-TV of the moment he saw the wreck come up on the screen.

Valerie van Heest, also a co-director of the research association, told the newspaper that the condition of the Moran suggests that it sunk slowly.

Van Heest told WZZM that highly skilled divers will someday be able to venture into the ship’s interior.

Watch the news station’s report with more footage of the Moran shipwreck:

This story has been updated to correct a typo.

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