Monday, July 11, 2005


Divers finally find S.S. Michigan shipwreck


9 July 2005

S. S. Michigan.

SAUGATUCK, Michigan -- A major underwater discovery has been made off the Michigan shoreline near Saugatuck.

It's a mystery that's taken the Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates two years to solve. After 120 years at the bottom of the lake, scuba divers found the S.S. Michigan.

Underwater treasure
Just 15 miles out from the Saugatuck shoreline, lies a sunken treasure.

Nearly 270 feet beneath the waters of lake Michigan, sits the S.S. Michigan.

"Here in west Michigan, we don't have a lot of great shipwrecks, but we do now," said Craig Rich of the Michigan Shipwreck Associates.

Built in 1881, the S.S. Michigan was known to be a luxury ship. Her cabins were said to be the finest on the lakes and decorated without regard to cost, including oil paintings and the finest carpets and furniture.

She set sail February 9, 1885 with 30 men on board. Their mission was to help another vessel trapped in ice.

However, the S.S. Michigan became stranded as well. For an incredible 42 days, the ship was trapped in ice.

"The captain, Deville, finally abandoned ship on the 19th of March in 1885 and said 'we've got to leave boys', and they pushed the life boat across the water, or across the ice," said Rich. "They got a quarter of a mile away, turned around, and watched it sink."

For more than 120 years, no one could locate the S.S. Michigan, until now.

After two years of tedious searching newspaper archives, and the waters of Lake Michigan, the Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates made their deep-sea discovery.

"Dave Trotter was down in the cabin of the boat and he yelled out 'bingo' and Dave always does that when he's found a shipwreck," said Rich. "When they showed them brushing off the cap-stand, there was no doubt that we had found the S.S. Michigan. It was great."

The recovery of the S.S. Michigan can now be written down in the history books, as the chapter is closed on two-year mystery.

"The ship construction is fascinating to learn," said Rich. "The history of where it actually sank, we can now put it down on paper and pace out where the crew was when they made their final trek to shore. Solving a mystery is so cool, (because) coming up with an answer that nobody in 120 years could, even if nobody cares, we do."

Under water it will stay
This discovery has the Michigan scuba divers thinking about long-term tourism dollars. This could open the gates to quality scuba diving for the area.

The ship won't be brought to shore, because the law protects shipwrecks.



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