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Lake Michigan is So Clear Right Now its Shipwrecks Are Visible From the Air

Stashed in: Shipping, Images!, Just Plain Cool, Michigan

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This is a wooden steamship that has been submerged since 1917 in Northwestern Michigan.

Thanks for stashing -- I didn't realize how clear the waters of Michigan are this time of year.

For, Bill Chappell reports that spotting wrecks from the air is "fairly common," according to one of the pilots on the patrol, Lieutenant commander Charlie Wilson, "but not in the numbers we saw on that flight." Chappell also notes that the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality writes, "An estimated 6,000 vessels were lost on the Great Lakes with approximately 1,500 of these ships located in Michigan waters."

It really is fascinating.

The U.S. Coast Guard Air Station in Traverse City noted the crystal clear water conditions and the lost ships during a routine patrol. Last week, they posted a handful of pictures to their Facebook page. The images come from the area near Sleeping Bear Point known as the Manitou Passage Underwater Preserve, which is "one of the richest areas in Michigan for shipwreck diving," according to the preserve’s website. The lumber industry put the area on a shipping route. The North and South Manitou Islands, just north of the point, provided a somewhat sheltered area for ships hiding from storms. 

Not much is known about most of the wrecks, but they do include one doomed vessel, the James McBride, which was thought to be the first to carry cargo from the Atlantic Ocean to Lake Michigan in 1848. Facebook commenters helped fill in some of the blanks, but most the historic details are still, well, watery. 

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