Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Shipwreck Found in Lake Michigan

By the late 1800s Chicago had become a center of commerce and transportation for the Midwest. It was a jumping off point for goods and services to travel around the country and even the world. Many of those goods were agriculture products such as corn. In 1898, the L.R. Doty was one of those transport ships that moved product around Lake Michigan. During one of its voyages transporting corn from Chicago to Ontario, Canada, it got caught in a violent storm. The ship being only five years old with reinforced steel arches should not have had any problems according to researchers. The problem was actually with the schooner it was towing. In an attempt to aid the much smaller vessel in the storm it more than likely sank in its effort. Seventeen crew members were killed including the ship's cats, Dewey and Watson.

Brendon Baillod is president of the Wisconsin Underwater Archaeology Association and has been researching the shipwreck for nearly 20 years. A report in 1991 from a local fisherman about snagging something nearly 300 feet deep went largely forgotten until, with new technology, the effort to find the Doty began. As soon as the divers had the right conditions they dove and realized immediately they found what they were looking for. What they found was a perfectly intact vessel, due to the cold fresh water, with even the cargo of corn still in the ship's hold. Now the property of the state of Wisconsin there are no plans to resurface the ship. Baillod stated he will continue to search for what is believed to be nearly 500 shipwrecks that can be found.

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