The wreck of the J.H. Jones, a passenger and package freighter that sank in 1906 in Lake Huron's Georgian Bay, was discovered July 1, 2018. The Detroit News


The wreckage of a coastal steamer that disappeared with 30 people on board in 1906 has been found in Lake Huron's lower Georgian Bay. 

An international team of divers found the wreck of the J.H. Jones on Canada Day on July 1 near Lion's Head, Ontario, researchers announced last week. That day, the Jones was hauling a full cargo of general freight, a brick-molding machine, a sleigh, about 20 barrels of coal oil to Lion's Head, Ontario.

The last person to see the ship was a lighthouse keeper at Cape Croker before it was lost in a storm on Nov. 22, 1906. Researchers said 17 passengers and 13 crew were onboard. 

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Two lifeboats and only one body of a young businessman, Richard Addison from Manitoulin Island, were found on Christian Island across the bay. The entire crew was from Wiarton, Ontario. 

Accompanying researchers, Ken Merryman, Jerry Eliason and Cris Kohl was Robert Crawford, the 83-year-old great-grandson of Capt. James Crawford, who was lost with the Jones in 1906. 

"I never thought the wreck would be found in my lifetime," said Crawford, from Warren. "But when that little image appeared on the screen, and I later watched video of the actual shipwreck that was sent up to our boat by a remote-operated camera, I was elated. I was a bit surprised that I felt far more excitement than sadness."

Researchers said multiple attempts were made to locate the Jones over the past few decades but were unsuccessful. 

"I had confidence in my research, which I began years ago," said Kohl, who has written 16 books about Great Lake shipwrecks with his wife. "After I put it all together, I told Ken last April that I could take him right to that shipwreck." 

Merryman, a technical diver and underwater videographer, and Eliason, an inventor, also recently located the wreck of steamer Jane Miller, which disappeared in an 1881 storm off Wiarton, Ontario. The pair is known for their shipwreck discoveries over the past three decades in Lake Superior. 

On July 1, the team found the Jones shipwreck after less than two hours of searching. Merryman documented the discovery. 

The video shows the hull, which remains mostly intact, the smokestack has toppled over onto its side, the steam whistle remains in place and, at the stern, they found the rudder and the tip of the embedded propeller. 

The on-deck cargo has been swept away by wind, waves, and time, officials said. Looking inside, the divers saw steam engine components, but no signs of any human remains.

"It's exciting to locate such a historic shipwreck, even with its very tragic history," said Merryman. "Now the complete story of this vessel can be told because it is no longer a 'mystery wreck.' Much of its story has actually been told already — but there was always those final elements missing, namely its location, what it looks like today, and what those physical remains could reveal to us."

Twitter: @SarahRahal_

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