GLEN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - The harsh winter and Lake Michigan waves have
revealed the wreck of a large boat along a northwestern Lower Peninsula
beach that may be more than 100 years old.
Ward Lamphere told the Traverse City Record-Eagle that he was walking about
a mile north of Glen Arbor in Leelanau County on March 31 when he saw a
40-foot-long string of large, worn wooden objects poking out of the sand.
"I saw the spine, and the horizontal curve,” he said. “Because it’s not the
entire boat, my first impression was it was a big row boat. I thought it was
just a smaller boat like that.”
The wreck is north of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, but will be
included in a database maintained by the park museum that includes 13 other
shipwrecks. Part of the remains of the boat is still under the sand and part
extends into the water.
Lamphere, who has a condominium at the nearby Homestead Resort, says he
connected with Kerry Kelly, chairman of the board for Friends of the
Sleeping Bear, and Kelly visited the site. Kelly recorded the specifications
and photographed the wreck.
“It is one-half of a boat,” Kelly said. “It is pretty old because there are
no threads or bolts or anything like that. You’ve been walking on that beach
many times and all of a sudden something is there.”
The boat may be more than 100 years old, Kelly said, citing its
construction, but he was reluctant to speculate on the type of boat or its
Laura Quackenbush, museum technician and archivist at Sleeping Bear Dunes
National Lakeshore, said another fragment of a shipwreck was found near the
mouth of the Crystal River about five years ago.
“People want to know what ship it is, but we very rarely find out,” she
said. “The shoreline shipwreck fragments are problematic. They travel quite
a bit. They get ground down by the sand and ice and gravel.”
Many ships sank in the region’s waters during the 19th century. Beach-goers
often discover parts of those wrecks, but they usually are smaller.
Wayne Lusardi, state maritime archaeologist for the Michigan Department of
Natural Resources, said the section of boat found on March 31 appears to be
one he hasn’t yet documented. The wreckage is consistent with a schooner, a
sailing vessel common to the Great Lakes during the 1800s, he said.
“The coastline is pretty dynamic,” he said.
“Sand can move and come and go. Anytime, particularly after harsh weather
events, wreckage will appear where it had never been seen before.”