HomeNewsShipwrecked: Three 19th Century Ships Discovered in Lake Superior

Shipwrecked: Three 19th Century Ships Discovered in Lake Superior

by Michael Freeman
(Photo by © CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

Finding a shipwreck in and of itself is invigorating for researchers. So, how do you think it felt for them to find three 19th century ships all in the span of one month in Lake Superior? It must have been exciting, to say the least.

Bruce Lynn, executive director of the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society (GLSHS), recorded an astounding number of shipwreck finds this year. Releasing a statement to The Mining Journal, Lynn expressed his happiness. “This has been a banner year, we have never located so many new wrecks in one season.” And what a season it has been so far. GLSHS researchers said in July alone they found three 19th century vessels. The Frank W. Wheeler, Michigan, and the Dot are the three they’ve identified, though they actually found more.

The Wheeler was a schooner-barge and sank on September 29, 1885, after a strong gale downed it. The Dot, on the other hand, carried iron ore and was being towed by the M.M. Drake. All of a sudden, it began taking in water, forcing crew to evacuate to the latter vessel.

Coincidentally, the Drake also towed Michigan when the two got caught in hazardous water on October 2, 1901. Once again, the Drake housed crew members from the sinking vessel. However, all was not well. Mere minutes after the rescue, a wave destroyed the Drake’s smokestack, making it so both vessels sank.

To this day, the GLSHS stated roughly 6,000 ships have sunk while on the Great Lakes. Occurring mostly in the 19th and 20th centuries, a reported 30,000 people have died. Lynn hopes to include as many of these ships as possible, saying “Each shipwreck has its own story. [T]hese are fantastic, true stories that we can tell in the museum someday.”

Officials Rescue 26 Stranded Minnesota Anglers from Ice Floe in Lake Superior

While the GLSHS has been busy rescuing and preserving ships, Minnesota officials had their hands full earlier this year rescuing people. After 26 Minnesota anglers became stranded on an ice floe on Lake Superior, they were luckily rescued.

Back in February, while 26 anglers fished in “individual fish houses” on Lake Superior’s ice, the ice detached from the shore. After receiving information about the stranded fisherman around 11 a.m. that morning the Duluth Fire Department sprang into action. Arriving shortly afterward, they rescued three of the anglers. Though it took more time, other rescue teams managed to similarly save the remaining 23 fishermen.

The Duluth Fire Department posted about the incident on Facebook, detailing their efficiency and success. “Within an hour of the original call, the Duluth Fire Department had rescued 26 anglers from the ice. Crews from Headquarters, UMD, Woodland, and Lakeside responded to the call.”