A series of Lake Michigan shipwrecks were revealed by the Coast Guard this week, with the winter’s retreating ice giving a glimpse of American history that’s been unseen for more than 150 years.
The shipwrecks were captured on film last week by the U.S. Coast Guard, which used a helicopter crew to take the pictures. Normally, the shipwrecks are invisible to the naked eye, covered in the lake’s murky water, but the late season ice melt has left the water a more translucent shade of bright blue.
The Lake Michigan shipwrecks were revealed in a Facebook post from the U.S. Coast Guard, which showed six different picture of vessels that sank in the lake over the course of about 100 years. One of the famous shipwrecks captured in the viral images is the James McBride, a 121-foot-long cargo ship that was the first brig to travel from the Atlantic Ocean directly to a Lake Michigan port. The shipwrecks are part of an important part of American history, when commerce was centered around the Great Lakes and port cities were fast-growing hubs of the American economy. This period also saw thousands of shipwrecks, with the vessels being preserved by the cool water of these lakes.
“An estimated 6,000 vessels were lost on the Great Lakes with approximately 1,500 of these ships located in Michigan waters,” noted Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality, calling the wrecks “irreplaceable records of our cultural history.”
While the Coast Guard shared what information it had about the shipwrecks, it called on other history buffs to help fill in the gaps.
“These photos were taken near Sleeping Bear Point northeast along the shoreline to Leland, Michigan, up to Northport,” one post reads. “Information on the shipwrecks is scarce, please post if you recognize any of the photographed sites.”
The Lake Michigan shipwrecks revealed by the U.S. Coast Guard is the second bit of exciting news for fans of history. A sunken World War II carrier, the USS Independence, was found intact just off the coast of California. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Navy released a new image of the aircraft carrier over the weekend. The find was part of an effort by the NOAA to find and map more than 300 shipwrecks just beyond San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.
Those hoping to get a closer glimpse at the Lake Michigan shipwrecks revealed this week are in luck, as long as they’re willing to put in some work. The shipwrecks are considered public property and cannot be disturbed, and some diving companies offer trips where divers get a chance to see them up close.
[Featured Image via NPR, Inline Images via Facebook]