March 31, 2011 -- A 60-foot, single-masted sloop dating back to perhaps the 1830s has been discovered in Lake Michigan.
Holland-based Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates made the discovery at about 250 feet down between Saugatuck and South Haven, Mich. The group worked in collaboration with author Clive Cussler and his sonar operator Ralph Wilbanks of the National Underwater & Marine Agency (NUMA).
At the time of the discovery, the group was searching for the remnants of Northwest Airlines Flight 2501, which crashed into the lake in 1950, killing 58 people.
During an exploratory dive to the wreck, MSRA made note of three features that are significantly different from sailing vessels dating to the mid- and late-19th century: the lack of a centerboard, the presence of a raised afterdeck and deadlights (a pair of openings) in the stern that allowed light to reach the cargo hold.
MSRA's historians have verified that the vessel's construction and design is consistent with ships built in the 1820s and 1830s, making it perhaps one of the oldest vessels discovered in the southern basin of Lake Michigan. The vessel sits upright and is in surprisingly good condition considering it was built nearly 200 years ago.
Source: Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates