A 300-Year-Old Mystery Sits Below Lake Michigan
There's something buried in the lake—is it a 17th century ship?
By Ruth Brown, Newser Staff
Posted Jun 16, 2013 1:43 PM CDT
An image from a video shows a diver passing timbers protruding from the bottom of Lake Michigan that were discovered by Steve Libert.   (AP Photo/David J. Ruck)

(Newser) – There's a 40-foot long, 18-foot wide object buried below Lake Michigan, and Steve Libert really hopes it's a 17th-century ship. Libert has been searching for a ship called the Griffin for three decades now. In 2001, he discovered a blackened timber slab near Poverty Island which may have been part of the ship, and he has done several sonar surveys of the site. But Libert and his crew have only just received a permit for archaeological excavations, which begin today, reports the AP.

The Griffin—known as Le Griffon to those who sailed it—was commanded by French explorer La Salle. It was built in 1679 near Niagara Falls, and sailed the Great Lakes to what is now Wisconsin. La Salle sent the ship back to fetch supplies, and it was never seen again. Based on his research, Libert believes it was hit by a storm just a few miles into its journey. Soon, he'll know whether 30 years of searching and diving have finally paid off. "Right now I'm pretty excited, from what I know so far," he says. "[But] scientific [proof] is 100%. It's not 99.9%."

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Jun 17, 2013 1:41 AM CDT
Maybe it's the long lost integrity of our U.S. goverment.
Jun 16, 2013 7:52 PM CDT
Was LaSalle a pirate or a priest?
Jun 16, 2013 6:56 PM CDT
Having done some wreck diving in Lake Superior, it is astounding how the cold, fresh water preserves these wrecks. The Lucerne went down on October 25, 1886 with the loss of all 7 crew members. Evidence of their battle against the storm is evident. They tried to anchor but the ice prevented the latches on the anchor windlass to engage, deploying more anchor chain than wanted. There is an iron bar jammed in the windlass, rusted solid to the assembly 125 years later. She sank some 200 yards from shore in 17 feet of water - but the storm was so bad, the crew never knew how close they were to land. Several of them climbed up into the masts and tied themselves off to stay above the raging water. They were found frozen to the masts the next morning. She even still had some of her load of iron ore in her hold. Astounding preservation for a wooden ship.