Traverse City Record-Eagle

December 5, 2012

Shipwreck found in Lake Huron


---- — PORT AUSTIN (AP) — The wreck of a 133-year-old wooden steamer that sank more than a century ago during a Lake Huron storm has been found, according to a shipwreck hunter involved in the effort to find it.

David Trotter told the Detroit Free Press that the find of the 283-foot New York earlier this year ends a two-year quest. Divers discovered it resting upright, with a damaged stern and broken stacks nearby, dozens of miles north of Port Austin.

"We were very excited because it was such a large vessel," said Trotter, 71, of Wayne County's Canton Township, who waited in a powerboat on the surface as two divers with flashlights and a camera explored 240 feet below. He has spent 35 years looking for Great Lakes wrecks.

The ship was carrying coal from Detroit to Ontario, Canada, on Oct. 1, 1910, when it was hit by a storm with gale-force winds. Trotter said the crew from another ship, the Mataafa, rescued the New York's captain and 13 crew members from lifeboats.

Divers made measurements and took photos. The find could shed light on how ships were built during that era, a time when most shipbuilders didn't use written plans.

"We have other vessels that represent that era, but none that were as large. ... It's an important look at the technology of the period," said Patrick Labadie, maritime historian for the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Alpena.