Researchers find 1890s shipwreck in deep water of Lake Superior federal state


WHITEFISH POINT, Mich. (WJRT) – Researchers have announced the discovery of a 172-foot schooner that sank during a violent storm in Lake Superior over 130 years ago.

The Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society at Whitefish Point used sonar and imagery from a remote-controlled vehicle to identify the Atlanta in about 650 feet of water 35 miles off the coast of Deer Park in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

The Atlanta, which had three masts but no sails, carried a cargo of coal in tow from the steamer Wilhelm. A northwesterly storm lashed waves on Lake Superior and caused a tow line to break.

The Atlanta crew quickly abandoned ship, jumped aboard a lifeboat, and rowed several hours to the Crisp Point Life-Saving Station. The boat capsized near shore, drowning all but two crew members.

The Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society found the first tracks of the Atlanta when they used side-scan sonar to map 2,500 miles of Lake Superior’s bottom in the summer of 2021.

The schooner is still in good condition after more than a century in the frigid depths off the coast of the Upper Peninsula. Images from a remote-controlled vehicle confirmed the crew’s statements that all three masts had broken off.

“It’s rare that we find a shipwreck that announces what it is so clearly, and the Atlanta’s nameplate really stands out,” said Bruce Lynn, executive director of the historical society. “It’s really artistic and still beautiful after 130 years at the bottom of Lake Superior.”


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