Two cen­tury-old ship­wrecks found in ex­cel­lent con­di­tion in Lake Huron

Windsor Star - - CITY+REGION -

Two ship­wrecks more than a cen­tury old have been found in the deep wa­ters of Lake Huron, Mar­itime ar­chae­ol­o­gists have an­nounced. Thun­der Bay Na­tional Ma­rine Sanc­tu­ary of­fi­cials said they re­cently con­firmed the iden­ti­ties of the wooden freighter Ohio and steel-hulled steamer Choctaw. Re­searchers from the Alpena, Mich.-based fed­eral sanc­tu­ary found what they be­lieved to be the ves­sels dur­ing a May ex­pe­di­tion.

Of­fi­cials say they plan fu­ture ex­pe­di­tions to the 202-foot-long Ohio and 266-foot Choctaw, which they add are well pre­served in up­per Great Lakes’ cold fresh­wa­ter. They also in­tend to nom­i­nate the ship­wrecks for list­ing on the (U.S.) Na­tional Reg­is­ter of His­toric Places.

They are in more than 200 feet of wa­ter off the coast of Michi­gan’s Presque Isle, within the sanc­tu­ary’s bound­aries. Sanc­tu­ary su­per­in­ten­dent Jeff Gray said they aren’t re­leas­ing the pre­cise co-or­di­nates of the wrecks un­til re­searchers have gath­ered more in­for­ma­tion, but the ul­ti­mate goal is to open them up to pub­lic div­ing.

“Both are mag­nif­i­cently pre­served,” he said. “They’re re­ally time cap­sules, sit­ting there fully in­tact.”

The Ohio sunk in 1894 and the Choctaw in 1915, both in col­li­sions with other ves­sels. All crew mem­bers were res­cued from both, but five died from the Iron­ton, one of the ves­sels in­volved in the col­li­sion with the Ohio. That schooner has not been found. Re­searchers and divers have long sought to lo­cate the Choctaw, con­sid­ered unique among ex­perts for its “straight­back” de­sign.

No­tably, it was the sub­ject of a 2011 search in­volv­ing pro­fes­sional re­searchers and high school stu­dents that be­came a doc­u­men­tary film en­ti­tled Project Shi­phunt.

COURTESY OF NOAA THUN­DER BAY NA­TIONAL MA­RINE SANC­TU­ARY

The 202-foot-long wooden bulk car­rier Ohio went down in Lake Huron in 1894, in more than 200 feet of wa­ter off the coast of Michi­gan’s Presque Isle.

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