WHITEFISH POINT, Mich. (WJMN) – The Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society (GLHS) announced on Monday, three recently discovered shipwrecks near the area of Grand Marais in Lake Superior.
According to the GLSHS, the three shipwrecks are from the 1800’s. In addition, a number of shipwrecks have also been located and are awaiting positive identification.
GLSHS used the organization’s 50 foot research vessel to track and map the areas where ships were reported lost. A side-scanning sonar called Marine Sonic Technology was used to look at the lake bottom and identify the submerged wrecks.
The new shipwreck discoveries and their stories are listed below as written by the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society:
Shipwreck 1: The schooner, Dot
August 25, 1883- The steamship M.M. Drake was towing the schooner Dot, downbound from Marquette with a load of iron ore, when the Dot started taking on water. The Captain Jones of the Dot, hailed the M.M. Drake, which came alongside his sinking ship and took his crew off before it dove for the bottom. All crew rescued. The Dot, formerly the Canadian schooner, Mary Merritt, was built in St. Catharines, Ontario in 1865. Her remains rest in over 350’ of water.
Shipwreck 2: The schooner-barge, Frank W. Wheeler
September 29, 1885- The relatively new schooner-barge, Frank W. Wheeler, was being towed by the steamer Kittie M. Forbes, when a gale swept across the lake. The ships struggled in the worsening conditions for hours and soon the Wheeler’s crew realized that their ship was sinking. Captain William Forbes, owner and captain of the Frank W. Wheeler, signaled his predicament to the Kittie M. Forbes, and the pair of vessels then tried to reach the safety of Grand Island, near present day Munising, MI. Captain Forbes soon ordered his men into the lifeboat, and 15 minutes later his ship sank, bow first. A number of explosions were heard as the ship slipped beneath the waves. The Frank W. Wheeler was built in West Bay City, MI (West Bay City Shipbuilding Co.) and today her wreckage lies in over 600’ of water.
Shipwreck 3: The Schooner Barge, Michigan
October 2, 1901- The steamer M.M. Drake (same vessel which towed the Dot, as noted above) was towing the schooner-barge Michigan in the vicinity of Vermilion Point, 12 miles west of Whitefish Point. Both vessels were struggling in rough weather, when suddenly the Michigan’s hold begins filling with water. Captain J.W. Nicholson maneuvered the M.M. Drake alongside the Michigan, with the latter ship’s crew jumping from their sinking ship onto the Drake. Within minutes, a massive wave smashes the two vessels together, destroying the M.M. Drake’s smokestack, leaving the ship without steam-pressure. Without power, the Drake soon lost headway and waves swept over her decks. Both ship’s crews were now in danger, but two large steel steamers, the Crescent City and Northern Wave, were close by and maneuvered-in to rescue the combined crews. Mr. Harry Brown, the Michigan’s cook, was the only casualty in this unusual double sinking. The remains of the M.M. Drake were discovered in 1978 by the Shipwreck Society, and her rudder is on exhibit at Whitefish Point. The Michigan’s hull is in 650’ of water.