SCIENCE
09/11/2014 03:01 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

115-Year-Old Shipwreck Finally Located Along Lake Superior's 'Shipwreck Coast'

A 115-year-old mystery finally has been solved.

In May 1899, a storm on Lake Superior caused a boat to sink so quickly that, as an eyewitness put it, the vessel "disappeared as suddenly as one could snuff out a candle."

But now, more than a century after its mysterious disappearance, the 199-foot schooner "Nelson" has been located.

Researchers with the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society in Paradise, Mich. found the ship in August along the lake's "Shipwreck Coast," according to a statement released by the society. The area has historically been treacherous, and claims dozens of shipwrecks.

The area between the two yellow points in Michigan's Upper Peninsula along Lake Superior's southern shore is known as the Shipwreck Coast. The red marker corresponds to the approximate location of the Nelson wreck, about seven miles offshore.

The researchers used sonar to map the lake's bottom. Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society Executive Director Bruce Lynn told The Huffington Post that the process was slow, even boring -- a bit like "mowing the lake." Once the researchers located the wreck, a team of divers and a remotely operated submersible went down for a look. The remarkably intact boat was found resting in more than 200 feet of water, Lynn said, its name still legible on its bow. A diver took the photographs of the wreck.

franklin expedition shipThe ship's bow, still showing the name "Nelson." Courtesy Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society.

franklin expedition shipThe ship's wheel, at the Nelson's stern, shows damage caused by the sinking in 1899. Courtesy Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society.

The Nelson was on its way to Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula when winds and freezing rain hit and iced over the deck, according to Lynn. Capt. Andrew Haganey saw to it that the seven-person crew as well as his wife and child made it into a lifeboat. But before the lifeboat could be detached from the Nelson, the ship sank. Haganey was the sole survivor.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misstated the length of the schooner as 19 feet; the ship was 199 feet long.

HuffPost

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