The clear-blue, post-winter waters of northern Lake Michigan have disclosed some of their hidden history to a US Coast Guard crew, which took a series of photos Friday of shipwrecks lying on the lake bottom in the waters off the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The Grand Rapids Press reports the Traverse City-based helicopter was on a routine patrol when the crew spotted the wrecks and got pictures of them. The Coast Guard crew posted six of the shipwreck photos on its Facebook page. Among the wrecks photographed: the Rising Sun, which foundered in 1917, and the James McBride, a 121-foot brig that ran aground in 1857. "[The Rising Sun] went to pieces, and her wreckage now rests in 6 to 12 feet of water," the Coast Guard says. "[The McBride's] remains lie in 5 to 15 feet of water near Sleeping Bear Point."
Many 19th- and early 20th-century shipwrecks can be found in the shallow waters of the lake off the Leelanau Peninsula near Leland. The area is known as the Manitou Passage, between the mainland of the northwestern Lower Peninsula and North and South Manitou islands. The US Park Service, which manages the national lakeshore, announced last month that the wreckage of the schooner Jennie & Annie, grounded off Empire in 1872, was visible again on the beach halfway between North and South Bar lakes; the shipwreck is visible every few years. Beach erosion, wind, waves, and variable lake levels mean that various wreck fragments periodically become visible along the dunes' shoreline. The wrecks are considered public property and can't legally be disturbed. (Read more Lake Michigan stories.)