Clear Waters of Lake Michigan Reveal Shipwrecks
The last bit of ice has finally disappeared from Lake Michigan, revealing, to those in the air, what lies beneath the crystal clear waves: Shipwrecks. Lots of shipwrecks. On a patrol last Friday, a crew from the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City in Michigan snapped some gorgeous photos of just a few of the wrecks along the shoreline, then posted them to Facebook.
Unpredictable weather on Lake Michigan has sent many a ship to a watery grave. The vessels the Traverse City-based Coast Guard photographed are located in an area called the Manitou Passage Underwater Preserve, which, according to Michigan Live, has numerous wrecks from the 19th century—which, these days, are popular diving destinations. There are two sunken ships in this photo, neither of which the Coast Guard has identified.
According to MichiganPreserves.org, "During the heyday of Michigan lumbering, this was a booming shipping area. It is also an area where ships have sought safety by attempting to ride out storms in the lee of the Islands. These activities have produced a substantial inventory of known and unknown shipwrecks." This wreck has yet to be identified.
This wreckage belongs to the Rising Sun, a 133-foot-long wooden steamer that was owned by a religious group called the House of David, and, according to the Daily Mail, was "returning from High Island, where [the group members] spend the summer, when it crashed in a sudden snowstorm." The vessel was stranded north of Pyramid Point on October 29, 1917, and the passengers and crew escaped in lifeboats and were rescued the next morning; the Rising Sun was torn apart by waves and weather (you can see the vessel before it sank here).
This is the wreckage of the James McBride, a 121-foot-long brig that was launched on April 1, 1848. That same year, the ship made a historic trip. According to the Traverse City Coast Guard, "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."
But the ship was not destined to have a long life: In mid-October 1857, the ship sailed for the Manitou Islands, where it picked up wood cargo before heading back to Chicago. But on October 19, the McBride was caught in a gale and ran aground near Sleeping Bear Dune. The boat was uninsured and in poor condition, so the crew abandoned it—which owner John Stafford was apparently fine with, "saying the vessel had returned more in profits than his investment of $4000." The wreckage now sits in 15 feet of water.