A Ship That Sank In 1881 Found Intact In Lake Michigan

On the morning of 11 May 1881, Captain John Higgins and his eight-member crew scurried on a lifeboat and got an unforgettable glimpse of the schooner Trinidad.

Surprisingly, 142 years later, the wreckage has been finally discovered and is in great condition. In July 2023, two shipwreck hunters, Brendon Baillod and Robert Jaeck, stumbled upon the intact wreckage of Trinidad underneath about 300 feet of water, nearly 10 miles away from the shoreline of Wisconsin’s Algoma.

wreckage of Trinidad
Representation Image

That put the two-year-long search for the not-so-well-known vessel that Baillod mentioned was slightly little beyond a floating coffin at the time of its eventual voyage to an end.

According to a news release, Trinidad was built at the Grand Island in New York in 1867 and was utilized as a cargo vessel in the grain trade between Milwaukee in Chicago and Oswego in New York.

Many of the schooners were built for just one thing, Baillod mentioned on a phone interview Friday evening.

And the reason was to make millionaires.

The 140-foot vessel, Trinidad, was described in a newspaper piece of the time as one of the finest schooners ever seen, Baillod mentioned, but it had a single issue.

Insurance records reflect that the vessel was maintained poorly by its owners, he said.

Trinidad was also plagued by leaks. Toward late 1880, Higgins had docked the vessel at Port Huron in Michigan in mid-voyage as he didn’t trust it to withstand November gales on the Great Lakes, Baillod mentioned. Higgins waited out until spring to get back on the ill-fated voyage.

Trinidad started taking on water on the morning it submerged. The water pumps of the ship were overmatched, and Higgins and the crew decided to abandon them. The men rowed a lifeboat on shivering cold waters for several hours to make it to the shore at Algoma.

They suffered hypothermia but survived. Baillod said that he earnestly hoped to have the wreck added to the National Register of Historic Places in the coming year and planned on releasing the accurate location of the site.

References: The Guardian, Deccan Herald, New York Times

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