Wreck of old boat revealed on Lake Michigan beach

The harsh winter and Lake Michigan waves have revealed the wreck of a large boat along a northwestern Lower Peninsula beach that may be more than 100 years old.
AP Wire
Apr 9, 2014

Ward Lamphere told the Traverse City Record-Eagle that he was walking about a mile north of Glen Arbor in Leelanau County on March 31 when he saw a 40-foot-long string of large, worn wooden objects poking out of the sand.

"I saw the spine, and the horizontal curve," he said. "Because it's not the entire boat, my first impression was it was a big row boat. I thought it was just a smaller boat like that."

The wreck is north of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, but will be included in a database maintained by the park museum that includes 13 other shipwrecks. Part of the remains of the boat is still under the sand and part extends into the water.

Lamphere, who has a condominium at the nearby Homestead Resort, says he connected with Kerry Kelly, chairman of the board for Friends of the Sleeping Bear, and Kelly visited the site. Kelly recorded the specifications and photographed the wreck.

"It is one-half of a boat," Kelly said. "It is pretty old because there are no threads or bolts or anything like that. You've been walking on that beach many times and all of a sudden something is there."

The boat may be more than 100 years old, Kelly said, citing its construction, but he was reluctant to speculate at the type of boat or its exact age.

Laura Quackenbush, museum technician and archivist at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, said another fragment of a shipwreck was found near the mouth of the Crystal River about five years ago.

"People want to know what ship it is, but we very rarely find out," she said. "The shoreline shipwreck fragments are problematic. They travel quite a bit. They get ground down by the sand and ice and gravel."

Many ships sank in the region's waters during the 19th century. Beach-goers often discover parts of those wrecks, but they usually are smaller.

Wayne Lusardi, state maritime archaeologist for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, said the section of boat found on March 31 appears to be one he hasn't yet documented. The wreckage is consistent with a schooner, a sailing vessel common to the Great Lakes during the 1800s, he said.

"The coastline is pretty dynamic," he said. "Sand can move and come and go. Anytime, particularly after harsh weather events, wreckage will appear where it had never been seen before."

Comments

jlebrasseur

Using the Bing Maps birds eye view and google maps aerial view, you can actually see many of the wrecks up there under the water. I have come across 7 or 8 this way. Really neat to see.

Here are some images:

Couple miles south of Pt. Betsie http://i.imgur.com/qjggQmW.jpg

At the Pt. Betsie light, looks like something laying on its side in the upper left http://i.imgur.com/BaC4uRc.jpg

Bit further north http://i.imgur.com/qKmR1lB.jpg

This is in front of the dune overlook. Doesn't look like much, but my friend dove this wreck a few years back, and it is a wooden ship of some sort. Not much left of it though. http://i.imgur.com/2fmgvzk.jpg

And finally, what's left of the docks at Glen Arbor http://i.imgur.com/5XofhsT.jpg

There are a LOT more wrecks visible from aerial photography in the area. There are also several visible right here in Grand Haven around the power plant.

dyankee

Sweet pics. jlebrasseur. Nice post.

Onthepontoon

Pretty cool!

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