Sunken Shipwrecks Revealed When Ice Melts On Lake Michigan

With the wild popularity of pirate movies and quests for sunken treasure, there is no doubt that sunken ships from the 1800’s and early 1900’s would pique your interest. The ideals of exploration and reclamation of shipwrecks absolutely fuels the imagination. Whether you’re a curious land lover or an amateur scuba diver, these recently photographed vessels are sure to pique your curiosity. With the recent ice melt of the waters of Lake Michigan resulting in unusually clear waters, visibility was amazingly increased to the point that many shipwrecks were visible by helicopter. Manitous Passage Underwater Preserve is one of the richest areas in Michigan if you’re interested in shipwreck diving. Michigan’s booming lumbering days created a number of sites for shipwreck explorers. These aren’t deep-sea dives by any means. But the fresh, cool water has preserved some of these Lake Michigan shipwrecks very well. And they’re just off the shoreline as shallow as 5-15 feet below the surface.

Crystal clear waters allow for unprecedented views of some unidentified shipwrecks.

Sunken Shipwrecks Revealed When Ice Melts On Lake Michigan

In this photo, you see two unidentified sunken ships just off the shoreline. With the shallow depths this far inland, these sites are easily viewed up-close with basic snorkeling gear.

Sunken Shipwrecks Revealed When Ice Melts On Lake Michigan

This single unidentified ship appears to be much more in tact. The preservation by the cool waters appear to have left the deck in very good condition for its age.

Sunken Shipwrecks Revealed When Ice Melts On Lake Michigan

The wreckage of the Rising Sun was owned by the religious group, ‘House of David.’ The 133 foot long wooden steamer is said to have crashed in a sudden snow storm upon its return from High Island. The passengers and crew were rescued from Pyramid Point after the October 29, 1917 wreck.

Sunken Shipwrecks Revealed When Ice Melts On Lake Michigan

James McBride was launched April 1, 1848. This 121 foot long brig was all the rage as it was believed to be carrying the first cargo carried directly from the Atlantic Ocean to the Lake Michigan port. Less than a decade later, it ran aground near Sleeping Bear Dune. The wreckage now sits in a mere 5-15 feet of water.


Varying weather conditions and tides frequently hide and reveal various shipwrecks in Lake Michigan. With thousands of sunken ships reported in these waters, there is definitely no shortage of adventure. So what will become of these irreplaceable records of our cultural history? Well, they’re protected under Michigan state law, so they will likely remain there. Undisturbed, waiting for visitors to cautiously appreciate their beauty while people bask in the glory of their untold historical secrets.

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