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

(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%."

An image from a video shows a diver passing timbers protruding from the bottom of Lake Michigan that were discovered by Steve Libert.
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)
Steve Libert, president of Great Lakes Exploration Group.
Steve Libert, president of Great Lakes Exploration Group.   (AP Photo/John Flesher)
Timbers that were discovered by Steve Libert, head of Great Lakes Exploration Group, in 2001 protrude from the bottom of Lake Michigan.
Timbers that were discovered by Steve Libert, head of Great Lakes Exploration Group, in 2001 protrude from the bottom of Lake Michigan.   (AP Photo/David J. Ruck)
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