Divers find pristine 116-year-old shipwreck in Lake Michigan

By Amy R. Connolly   |   July 23, 2015 at 2:02 PM
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LAKE MICHIGAN, Mich., July 23 (UPI) -- Divers discovered a 116-year-old shipwreck at the bottom of Lake Michigan that is being called one of the best-preserved wrecks in the Great Lakes.

The John V. Moran is also one of the deepest wrecks dived in the expansive lake that is home to some 2,000 sunken vessels dating back to the 1800s. Only 360 have been found thus far.

"The John V. Moran has been on our hit list for quite a while," said Craig Rich, co-director of the Michigan Shipwreck Research Association. "We've quietly been researching it, and decided this year we'd go out after it."

The story of the John V. Moran began unfolding in February 1899. The 214-foot ship was traveling Lake Michigan from Milwaukee to Muskegon to deliver cargo when it slammed into an ice floe. With an iron-reinforced hull, the 11-year-old ship had been built to withstand the harsh winters, but the hole in the hull was too big and the ship took on water.

The 25-person crew escaped unharmed by walking across the icy lake, reported to be about -30 degrees F at the time, to an approaching ship. Even though the John V. Morgan was still afloat the next morning, it sunk as it was being towed 15 miles to shore.

In early June, members of the shipwreck research association took to the waters in search of the elusive ship and discovered it using a remotely operated vehicle with an attached camera. By mid July, divers took to the water to take a closer look. What they found was a ship remarkably intact.

"Not a railing is missing," Rich said. "The mast is standing. The lights are standing. The anchors are in position. There's even glass still in the windows."

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