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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sunken Ships in Lake Michigan and Grand Traverse Bay

I'm forever fascinated by shipwrecks. I want to know the stories of the ships and the people who sailed on them. It's not a fascination with the morbid, but rather a human pain for lives cut short and in most cases, a piece of history unacknowledged.

In mid-September I will have the opportunity to visit the Sleeping Bear Dunes on Lake Michigan near Traverse City. Lake Michigan and Grand Traverse Bay have the unfortunate distinction of being the final home of many ships that never reached the harbor.

Michael Norton with the Traverse City Convention and Visitors Bureau sent me the following information:

"There's saying in Northwest Michigan's dune country. The sand gives, and the sand takes away.

"Over the years, the golden sands along the towering Sleeping Bear Dunes have buried farms, forests and settlements. Just as unpredictably, though, they can retreat and bring to light what they have buried - as happened, for instance, in the case of the Three Brothers.

A 160-foot wooden steamer, The Brothers ran aground in 1911 on a sandbar off the coast of South Manitou Island and vanished without a trace. For nearly a century, boaters and beachcombers fished and swam right over the wreck without knowing it was there, until the current shifted the sand away in 1996 and uncovered the vessel - completely intact - in a mere 12 feet of water.Since then it's become a magnet for scuba divers and snorkelers from all around the country."

The cold, fresh waters of the Great Lakes has preserved the wreckage of ships and their contents. It's become an explorers' haven rich in artifacts of the mid-1800s when ships served as major transporters of people and goods. A weel-preserved ship wreck gives us a glimpse of a time gone by.

According to Norton, underwater tourism is a popular activity in the area:

"'The Great Lakes have more shipwrecks than anyplace else in the world, and they're in much more pristine condition than, say, the Caribbean, because they haven't been eaten away by salt water,' says Jack Enger of Great Lakes Scuba, one of several Traverse City's dive shops that serve the area's growing number of underwater visitors.

"Underwater tourism is increasingly popular in Traverse City, especially in late summer when Lake Michigan and Grand Traverse Bay get warm enough for deep exploration. But the best diving is in autumn, says Enger; the water's still warm but there's much less recreational boat traffic and the already phenomenal clarity of the water is at its best."

I will be blogging about my entire trip to northern Michigan - my first. I've heard only marvelous comments about the beauty of the area and the diversity of activities to enjoy.

1 comment:

  1. what gold bullion or silver bullion ships from 1800 era sunk near saugatuck michigan there was a story of bullion 1871 near saugatuck michigan cant get more information on it thanks jon macvean