Lake Michigan 1891 Shipwreck Could be Most Intact Wooden Schooner Ever Found
A cargo-hauling boat lost in a storm in 1891 on a journey from Manistee to Traverse City could be the "most intact wooden schooner ever found".
MLive reports that the discovery of the shipwreck sitting 300 feet deep in northern Lake Michigan was shared to social media this week.
Shipwreck hunter and author Ross Richardson of Lake Ann made the initial find, almost by accident.
Richardson was crossing northern Lake Michigan in September 2018, headed to South Manitou Island for a day of wreck-hunting, when he noticed a “small blip” on his sonar screen. It showed something that was resting in about 300 feet of water, and rising 90 feet off the lake’s bottom.
Richardson later went back with a dive team to investigate in spring of 2019.
According to a YouTube video on the subject, after two dives at the site, pouring over old records, studying underwater videos and old photographs, the team believes the wreck is that of the W.C. Kimball.
Richardson says in the YouTube video, “The W.C. Kimball is a true representation of Great Lakes schooners. She was built on Lake Michigan and spent her entire life on Lake Michigan.”
The W.C. Kimball left Manistee on May 7, 1891 carrying 200 barrels of salt and 250,000 wooden shingles, destined for Northport. According to MLive:
By the next morning, a northwest gale was lashing the Great Lakes. The Kimball vanished, along with her captain and three others aboard."
Diver and painter Cal Kothrade, part of the team who discovered her, shared to Facebook how important this discovery is:
I want to congratulate my good friend Ross Richardson on what may prove to be one of the most significant shipwreck discoveries ever in the Great Lakes...a little schooner nobody’s heard of. Why is it so significant? Because it’s the most intact 19th century wooden schooner shipwreck in the world. No other vessel of its type has been as well preserved."
You can find out more about the discovery of the W.C. Kimball and other Michigan shipwrecks on Richardson's website Michigan Mysteries.