From AP and FoxNews:
Two Civil War-era schooners that collided and sank into Lake Michigan more than 140 years ago were found thanks to a diver and maritime history buff looking for shipwrecks.
The Peshtigo – a 161-foot long ship carrying coal – and St. Andrews – about 143 feet long and carrying corn – are believed to have sunk in 1878 after they hit each other between Beaver and Fox islands, northwest of Charlevoix, Michigan.
The shipwrecks were lost to history.
That is until diver Bernie Hellstrom, 63, of Boyne City, Michigan, came across to an obstruction on his depth sounder about 200 feet down to the bottom of Lake Michigan near Beaver Island about 10 years ago.
“I’ve made hundreds of trips to Beaver Island and every trip I go out the sounder is on,” he told the AP on Friday. “But if you happen to see something that’s not normal, you go back. A lot are nothing but fish schools. This was 400 feet of boat. There’s nothing out there that big that’s missing.”
This past June, he returned to the area armed with a custom-made camera system and dived into the cold depths of northern Lake Michigan. What he found was the two ships lost to history.
The Peshtigo and St. Andrews were about 10 feet apart with their masts atop one another. The hull of one of the ships has a huge gash.
Hellstrom brought technical divers in to record video of the wrecks and Baillod was recruited to help them identify the ships.
Wayne Lusardi, Michigan’s state maritime archeologist, told the AP that finding the actual resting place of the two ships was a “fantastic discovery.”
“You can argue that any new discovery is important because it really gives you a first-time look at something that has been lost and missing for such a long time,” he said.
He added that the two ships “had been mistakenly identified as two vessels up in the Straits (of Mackinac) for decades.”
“Now, it begs the question: What are those wrecks?” Lusardi said.
Anyone need some 150 year old corn? Of how about some slightly soggy coal?
But nonetheless, an amazing piece of underwater detective work.
Until next time,