Clear Waters Disclose Lake Michigan Shipwrecks

Filed under: News 

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The view from the air above a crystal-clear Lake Michigan revealed some hidden gems to Coast Guard airmen during a recent routine flight.

Rising Sun wreck
The Rising Sun, a 133-foot steamer, went down just north of Pyramid Point on October 29, 1917; photo by U.S. Coast Guard
Rising Sun Sinks
Rising Sun wrecked off Pyramid Point (1917). Remains still visible in the shallow water; photo by National Park Service

Thanks to incredible water clarity afforded by a long cold winter, a U.S. Coast Guard crew was able to photograph shipwrecks lying on the bottom of the lake in the waters near Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

The Grand Rapids Press reported that the Traverse City-based helicopter was on a routine patrol when the crew spotted the wrecks and got pictures of them.

The shallow waters off the Leelanau Peninsula, known as the Manitou Passage, are the site of many 19th and 20th century wrecks. The Coast Guard crew posted six photos of the shipwrecks on its Facebook page.

Left: The 121-foot brig James McBride sank in Oct. 1857; photo U.S. Coast Guard. Right: An unknown shipwreck.
Left: The 121-foot brig James McBride sank in Oct. 1857; photo U.S. Coast Guard. Right: An unknown shipwreck.

Among the wrecks that the crew photographed include the Rising Sun, which sank in 1917. “This 133-foot wooden steamer stranded just north of Pyramid Point,” the Coast Guard told the Grand Rapids Press. “She went to pieces and her wreckage now rests in 6 to 12 feet of water.”

Another was the James McBride, a 121-foot brig that ran aground in 1857.

“Her remains lie in 5 to 15 feet of water near Sleeping Bear Point,” the Coast Guard reported. “The McBride encountered a gale and was driven ashore near Sleeping Bear Dune.”

The 121-foot brig James McBride, ran aground during a storm on October 19, 1857

The 121-foot brig James McBride ran aground during a storm on October 19, 1857

With the waters at an average of just 38 degrees, divers without quality dry suits will probably want to wait a bit to explore the underwater wonders.

While the wrecks are considered public property, they cannot be disturbed. These photos are the closest most of us will ever get.

shipwreck-in-lake-michigan

By
Editor-in-Chief Sean McCoy is a life-long outdoorsman who grew up hunting and fishing central Wisconsin forests and lakes. He joined GearJunkie after a 10-year stint as a newspaperman in the Caribbean, where he learned sailing and wooden-boat repair. Based in GearJunkie's Denver office, McCoy is an avid trail runner, camper, hunter, angler, mountain biker, skier, and beer tester.
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