Century-old Shipwrecks Revealed Off the Coast of Lake Michigan


Anglers who frequent Lake Michigan’s shoreline may be in for a special surprise over the weeks to come. With the ice gone and the lake once again returning to the crystal clear, blue waters that it is known for, residents of northern Michigan can see the remnants of old shipwrecks off the shore. A patrol from the US Coast Guard Station at Traverse City recently sighted at least two century-old wrecks near Sleeping Bear Point. The area is part of the Manitou Passage, an underwater preserve that has become the final resting ground for many submerged ships.

Rising Sun: This 133 foot long wooden steamer stranded just north of Pyramid Point on October 29, 1917. She went to…

Posted by U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City on Sunday, April 19, 2015

“During a routine patrol this past Friday, an aircrew captured these photos of a handful of the many shipwrecks along the Lake Michigan shoreline,” the Coast Guard Station wrote on its Facebook. “These photos were taken near Sleeping Bear Point northeast along the shoreline to Leland, Michigan up to Northport.”

James McBride: The 121 foot brig James McBride ran aground during a storm on October 19, 1857. Her remains lie in 5 to…

Posted by U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City on Sunday, April 19, 2015

According to the Coast Guard, the two ships identified by the Coast Guard include the Rising Sun, a wooden steamer that sunk in 1917, and the James McBride, a brig that ran aground in 1857. A number of other wrecks can also be seen near Sleeping Bear Point and the Manitou Islands on a clear day, including an ocean-going freighter lost in 1960.

Due to the high density of shipwrecks in the area, the Manitou Passage is popular among divers. When Michigan lumber was in high demand, the area served as a high-traffic shipping hub and as a place of sanctuary for ships from storms. Unfortunately, some of those ships still fell victim to the region’s notorious snowstorms. Fresh water has preserved these shipwrecks well, but erosion and shifting tides have also flung fragments throughout Michigan’s northern shores. Divers and residents are advised not to remove anything, as shipwrecks are considered property of the state.

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