Famed 1913 Shipwreck Unearthed in Lake Superior

Henry B. Smith went down almost exactly a century ago
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 10, 2013 6:45 AM CDT
Updated Jun 15, 2013 1:00 PM CDT
Famed 1913 Shipwreck Unearthed in Lake Superior
The Henry B. Smith, in its above-water days.   (Wikimedia Commons)

Jerry Eliason describes it as "the most satisfying find of my shipwreck-hunting career"—but the sunken ship he speaks of slumbers not in the depths of the Atlantic or Pacific, but off the shores of Marquette, Michigan. The Duluth News Tribune reports on the fascinating coda to the story of the Henry B. Smith, a freighter that went down in Lake Superior during 1913's infamous Great Lakes Storm. The Smith was seen setting out from the Marquette harbor on Nov. 9 with a full load of iron ore, only to disappear—along with more than a dozen other ships and some 250 sailors they carried.

The lake gave up few clues: Bodies of only two of the Smith's 25 crew surfaced, along with some washed up debris. So how did Eliason and his team track down the 525-foot vessel? He doesn't give specifics, but says that research and FOIA requests returned enough data for Eliason and his wife, a software engineer, to create formulas that brought them so close to the wreck that they found it just 20 minutes after they began searching the area via a sonar unit. That's staggering, says Eliason, who tells WDIO he would have estimated a 200-day search over 1,000 square miles to find such a wreck. Though they didn't manage to capture the name on the side of the ship among the images they took in May, they found enough distinguishing details to convince them and a maritime historian of their find. A return visit is planned for this summer. (More Great Lakes stories.)

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