Piece of old ship found near Sleeping Bear Pt.
A 50 foot-long section of what is believed to be a schooner was uncovered on a section of beach south of Sleeping Bear Point two weeks ago, according to information provided by the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
The piece was thought be part of a the schooner Jennie and Annie, which was blown to shore in 1872. National lakeshore Museum Technician Laura Quackenbush said she thought this wreckage might be a part of that ship based on photographs taken two weeks back.
“We’re still looking at it,” Quackenbush said. “It’s really hard to say what any of these pieces that wash ashore or become uncovered in the sand are really from.”
To help answer the question Quackenbush has put a series of photos on a compact disc and will be sending the disk to Steve Harold, one of the best maritime historians in the region. She and Harold worked to establish the Manitou Passage State Underwater Preserve, which helps protect the ship wrecks which lay on the Lake Michigan bottom.
Quackenbush said this wreckage may be the keelson and ribs of a schooner because timbers in this area of a schooner, around the centerboard trunk, was reinforced with iron rods, or drifts that held the timbers together.
“A centerboard trunk was essentially a slot down the center of the boat, in which the centerboard could be lowered or raised,” she said. “On the Great Lakes, centerboards were used so that the boats could navigate in shallow waters.”
Over the last six years Quackenbush said the national lakeshore has started keeping track of the different wreckage finds as they are uncovered. The last time this particular piece was uncovered was two years ago. It was sitting 250 feet south of where it now sits. “We note where a piece of wreckage is sitting with a Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinate,” she said.
The lakeshore personnel have considered physically tagging each piece as it’s found, but dismissed the idea as unpractical.
“You could tag a piece, but the dynamic forces that shape our shoreline and water could easily break that piece up and you lose the tag,” Quackenbush said.
Regional media reports and relatively mild weather conditions have brought a good number of people out to a remote part of the national lakeshore. Quackenbush said the lakeshore rangers have reported increased traffic out to the wreckage site. “There is no easy way to get there, it’s a pretty good hike,” she said.
If you stop at the D.H. Day General Store in Glen Haven, which is now a museum, you can pick up a flyer that has some facts about the wreckage and directions on how best to get there.
Quackenbush said everyone who finds pieces of old ships along the Lake Michigan shoreline needs to remember it is all protected by state law and the underwater preserve.
“The shoreline and the Lake Michigan bottomlands are all protected by the state,” she said. “You cannot take or remove anything from the shoreline or the lake bottom. It is there for all to enjoy.”