Wooden ship lost in 1891 discovered intact in Lake Michigan

The Grand Rapids Press:MLive.com

Leland – A late 19th-century shipwreck has been discovered in northern Lake Michigan.

The discovery of W.C. Kimball was announced this week with photos and videos documenting the details on social media, MLive reported.

Shipwreck hunter Ross Richardson, Technical Diver Steve Wimer and a group of other wreck enthusiasts documented its position in May. The group included underwater photographer Brent Tompkins; maritime artist and diver Cal Kothrade, and ROV pilot Bryan Dort. A video showing their expedition is being shared online.

“The W.C. Kimball is a true representation of Great Lakes schooners,” Richardson said on the video. “She was built on Lake Michigan and spent her entire life on Lake Michigan.”

After descending to the wreck, Wimer described the Kimball as “the most intact shipwreck I have ever encountered.”

Richardson initially found it more than a year ago using his boat’s sonar screen. He was passing through the lake when he noticed a small blip. It showed something that was sitting in about 300 feet (91 meters) of water and rising 90 feet (27 meters) off the lake’s bottom. Richardson took notes of the GPS coordinates and kept going.

Kothrade said in a Facebook post this week that he was happy to be a part of the team that discovered and identified the ship and to be able to make a painting the wreck as well.

“I want to congratulate my good friend Ross Richardson on what may prove to be one of the most significant shipwreck discoveries ever in the Great Lakes … a little schooner nobody’s heard of,” Kothrade said. “Why is it so significant? Because it’s the most intact 19th century wooden schooner shipwreck in the world. No other vessel of its type has been as well preserved.”

At first, there was speculation the Kimball was run over by a larger ship, but the boat’s condition rules out that claim.

The ship was lost in an 1891 storm with four people aboard. Richardson’s website account noted it was set to round the Leelanau Peninsula.