Crew Finds Shipwrecked Car Ferry 110 Years After Sinking in Lake Michigan [VIDEO]
Whenever I see the number "29," I'm reminded of a significant piece of Michigan history -- 29 is the number of crew members who lost their lives as the Edmund Fitzgerald sank into Lake Superior on November 10, 1975. It often triggers a line from the Gordon Lightfoot song in which he croons about the tragedy to begin playing in my head: "The church bell chimed till it rang twenty-nine times, for each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald."
However, there is no song to commemorate the sinking of the Pere Marquette 18, the ship that sank into Lake Michigan about 65 years before the Edmund Fitzgerald.
Eerily, that shipwreck also claimed 29 lives.
The vessel set out on a course from Ludington to Milwaukee, carrying 60 passengers and crew and about 30 rail cars. It began taking on water on the morning of September 9, 1910. Rescuers managed to save 31 of the 60 people on board.
Fast forward to 2020, about 110 years after the demise of Pere Marquette18, and two Minnesota shipwreck hunters have discovered what is left of the wreckage.
It took Jerry Eliason and Ken Merryman just two days to discover the ship in her final resting place.
“It’s pretty dramatic,” Merryman said. “It’s speared in – we’re both guessing around 30 to 40 degrees, that it sits into the bottom. … And a fair amount of it is buried in the mud.”
Frederick Stonehouse, who chronicled the shipwreck in his 2006 book 'Steel on the Bottom' calls the discovery an incredible find.
"I find it amazing that Lake Michigan divers have been looking for her forever. And it took the boys from Minnesota to go down and literally in a matter of a couple of days … discover that wreck,” he tells the AP.
Although the pair discovered the remains of the ship earlier this summer, it took several weeks to capture video footage. That video is below.
Stonehouse says the discovery is much like opening a time capsule and getting a look into the lives that were taken.
"A shipwreck is not really about the iron and the steel and the coal. A shipwreck is really about the people that were on it and what stories they had.”