They’re calling it “Shipwreck Sunday.”
At least, that’s what the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station in Traverse City, Michigan dubbed their aerial expedition yesterday. It appears that spring has officially sprung across the U.S., with warmer temperatures finally driving away the last bits of ice covering Lake Michigan. It’s too cold for plant life to flourish just yet, which is why the water was clear enough for the Coast Guard to capture spectacular images of shipwrecks (some over a century old) and post them to their Facebook page.
One picture shows the remains of the James McBride, a 121 foot brig that ran aground on October 19, 1857. The wreck lies in shallow water ranging from 15 to just five feet in depth. Before attempting the return voyage to Chicago, the James McBride had picked up a shipment of lumber from the Manitou Islands.
The Coast Guard knew little about some of the other wrecks they captured. Thankfully, some helpful Facebook fans were able to step in with historical info on some of the unidentified wrecks, like the Rising Sun:
A 133 foot wooden steamer, the Rising Sun was stranded October 29, 1917 (late October is apparently a bad time to sail Lake Michigan). After picking up a load of potatoes, rutabagas and lumber, the Rising Sun got caught in an October snowstorm and ran aground. It also rests in very shallow water.
Because the Coast Guard has yet to confirm the location of this wreck, it remains unidentified. However, based on the apparent water depth, hull remains and the locations of the Coast Guard’s other observations, this may very well be the Alva Bradley, a three-masted schooner that was lost in a storm on October 13, 1894 (seriously, do not sail Lake Michigan in late October).
Most of the wrecks identified by the Manitou Passage Underwater Preserve are accessible to divers looking to explore their remains. However, they do so at their own risk: According to the Coast Guard, Lake Michigan’s waters clock in at a perilously cold 38 degrees Fahrenheit.