A shipwreck of The Milwaukie that was lost almost two centuries before off the shores of Lake Michigan has been discovered by a pair of experienced and adventurous scuba divers.
The ship sank in the lake’s icy waters close to Saugatuck in Michigan on a stormy winter night on 16 November 1842, which kicked off the cold winter of 1842, per The Chicago Tribune.
The story of what happened on the ship that November night is dramatic, but until now, no one had seen the ship at the center of the shocking maritime tragedy.
Kevin Ailes with his wife, Amy, have discovered four Great Lakes wrecks until now. They soon became interested in the Milwaukie and used stories of the ship and Google Earth to find the mysterious vessel.
Amy and Kevin are well-trained divers, which has helped them discover such ships on their quests.
It is a kind of addiction for Kevin. He said that the more they investigate such things, the more stories they hear, and they realize it is fascinating what can be discovered underwater. He also added that he never really expected to find the Milwaukie.
The Discovery of the Milwaukie Ship
As the story goes, the first-of-its-kind 200-foot-long ship to sail in Lake Michigan left the port at the mouth of the Kalamazoo River for Buffalo in New York, loaded with 1,300 barrels of flour and 13 crew members.
Several crew members later recalled that they were worried about leaving port, as poor weather was common in mid-November on Lake Michigan, per the Michigan Shipwreck Research Association (MSRA).
The crew members were superstitious and noticed many rats fleeing the vessel in the port at St. Joseph Harbor. Sailors were concerned when an old, big gray rat also followed them, a sign that danger may lurk on the ship, per MSRA. However, the ship’s captain decided that the vessel should leave as scheduled for Buffalo, causing dissatisfaction among crew members.
As the boat entered the waters of what is known as the Saugatuck Dunes State Park now, the winds started changing dramatically, and temperatures began dropping fast below freezing, endangering the boat and the crew members.
At some point, per the investigation, a mutiny reportedly broke out on the vessel, with the crew members going so far as to murder their captain before running the ship aground intentionally.
However, less than half the crew members managed to get off the ship and safely reach a nearby lighthouse. The lighthouse keeper sent a young man called Henderson to explore the ship’s wreckage. Henderson informed that the ship ended about 2 miles north and approximately 60 feet offshore of the lighthouse station.
The ship could not be recovered, and although the Singapore residents collected its flour and wine, Michigan is now a ghost town buried under Lake Michigan’s dunes.
References: Accuweather, American Post
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