Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Local explorer may have located piece of lost shipwreck


Dayton Daily News
By Jessica Wehrman
February 26, 2006

Famed Frenchman Rene Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, is remembered for his exploration of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River, but he died haunted by a mystery that lingers centuries later.

What had happened to Le Griffon, the pride of La Salle's fleet, which disappeared in 1679 on Lake Michigan during its maiden voyage?

In the decades after the death of La Salle, rumors and theories abounded about the Griffon's fate. Some say it fell to Indian marauders, who stole its bounty of fur and killed its crew. More likely, it hit a devastating storm and sank.

Steve Libert, a Dayton-area native and amateur explorer, has spent 30 years, hundreds of thousands of dollars and unaccountable energy trying to solve the mystery.

Now, at 51, he believes he might have done so.

In 2001, during one of dozens of his scuba expeditions, Libert literally ran into what initially seemed an errant piece of timber at the bottom of the lake.

Additional research led him to believe that timber is the part of the Griffon, and he has enlisted Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History, the nation of France and a loyal team of Dayton-area explorers to see if he's right.

In July, they will be joined by a team of French and Canadian archaeologists to begin to explore the wreckage Libert has found.


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