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Holland-area shipwreck hunters find wreck from 1873

By Jake Allen/The Holland Sentinel • Mar 21, 2018 at 5:00 PM

The Lizzie Throop, a schooner from the late 1800s, wasn’t supposed to have been discovered on the bottom of Lake Michigan.

Yet, that is where Craig Rich and the Michigan Shipwreck Research Association found it in 2016.

Rich is the founder of the Michigan Shipwreck Research Association, which has discovered about 21 shipwrecks in the Great Lakes since 2001.

The Lizzie Throop was discovered by the association 15 miles northwest of South Haven in 250 feet of water. It wasn’t until the fall of 2017, after a technical dive team was sent down to explore several times, that the wreck was confirmed to be the Lizzie Throop.

“We went through a lot of gyrations because it’s a boat that wasn’t supposed to be sunk in Lake Michigan,” Rich said. “It was a real mystery.”

Rich and several other historians and explorers from the association will tell the full story of the sinking of the Lizzie Throop and other local shipwrecks at a March 24 event in Holland. The 20th annual film festival “Mysteries and Histories Beneath the Inland Seas” will be held from 7–9:30 p.m. at the Jack H. Miller auditorium at Hope College.

“The more we know about Great Lakes maritime history the better,” Rich said. “Everybody loves the water and they love walking along the beach, but some of us think about what used to there.”

The Lizzie Throop was located while the association searched for the Northwest Airlines Flight 2501, a DC4 passenger liner that crashed in Lake Michigan in 1950 killing all 58 people onboard.

The venture expedition has been ongoing since 2004 and has resulted in the discovery of 10 shipwrecks, while the downed airliner remains elusive.

The Lizzie Throop is an 86-foot, two-masted schooner built in 1849 — one of the earliest vessels built in Ottawa County. The schooner was built at Mill Point, now Spring Lake, by J. O’Conner and first owned by Grand Haven pioneer Nathan Throop, whose family has ties to early Grand Rapids history, according to a press release from the association.

Programs at the annual film festival event will include: “Ships That Go Bump in the Night” by Dan Fountain; “The Last Whaleback Steamer Clifton” by David Trotter; “The Mystery of the Lizzie Throop” by Craig Rich; “Return to the John V. Moran” by Jeff Vos and Valerie van Heist; and “The True Story of the Baby Jane” by Valerie van Heest.

Tickets are $13.50 in advance, $16 at the door and free with various membership levels — available at MichiganShipwrecks.org.

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