1881 ‘Trinidad’ shipwreck found off Wisconsin coast by historians

A long-lost shipwreck has been found off the coast of Wisconsin, with details of the vessel revealed this week by ship hunters. The schooner-type ship sank in Lake Michigan in 1881 and has been hailed as a “remarkable discovery” by maritime historians.

The 156-year-old Trinidad ship was discovered at a depth of 270 feet off Algoma Beach by Brendan Baylot and Bob Jack, members of the Wisconsin Underwater Archeology Society, who used sonar technology to locate the ship based on historical records and years of research.

“Few have ever sought her,” said Baillod Report About discovery. The ship is “remarkably intact” with some of the crew’s belongings such as plates, bells and anchors well preserved, he added.

Bailot added that the ship “ticked all the boxes” as a candidate for discovery because “her crew gave a good description of where she sank, and she moved slowly in deep water, so she may have remained intact. She was close to a port city for convenient access.”

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The schooner – a type of sailing ship – was built in 1867 in Grand Island, NY, by shipbuilder William Keefe in a shipyard established specifically for its construction. Report From the Wisconsin Historical Society, he described the discovery.

It was founded by businessmen John Keller and Aaron B. Built for Merriam and a “canal schooner” through the Welland Canal connecting Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. It had similar features to the lifeboat David It folded so the ship could navigate narrow waterways.

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Bailot and Jake find out Trinidad July narrowed the search area after two years of archival research using sonar technology, reading historical news articles and records, ship routes and nautical charts.

Baillot said When he and Jake first filmed the wreck, “it looked like a fuzzy blob on their screen” and they “almost missed it.” But a second, slower-speed search allowed them to “clearly see that they had discovered a shipwreck.”

They took their findings to Tamara Thompson, an underwater archaeologist with the Wisconsin Historical Society, who surveyed the site with an underwater vehicle and successfully identified it as the Trinidad ship.

The discovery team used 3,600 high-resolution images taken during the technical dive to create “a 3D photogrammetry model of the wreck,” and the model can be viewed. Almost By the public.

The Trinidad was 140 feet long with two masts and, according to Baylod, “had unusually large and well-appointed accommodation”. It hauled coal from New York and returned with Midwest grain, traveling between Milwaukee, Chicago, Buffalo, and Oswego.

“The grain trade was very lucrative, and the Trinidad made a fortune for its owners, making hundreds of voyages during its career,” he said.

But below the ship’s maintenance standards, the Wisconsin Historical Society said “the owners did not invest much money,” adding that “the hull leaked” and “the captain was nearly killed by a block that fell from the rotting wire.” Fraud.”

Insurance records show the ship was valued at $22,000 in 1867, but that value had halved by 1878, Bailot said.

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The schooner’s final voyage was on May 11, 1881, toward Milwaukee on the Wisconsin coast, and at about 4:45 a.m. the vessel began to fill with water, “which was not an unusual occurrence … [it] “The ship kept going until it began to sink suddenly and violently,” Baillod said.

The emergency prompted Captain John Higgins and his crew of eight to jump ship, sailing the ship’s small yawl for eight hours to Algoma. The only loss, according to the group’s report, was “the ship’s mascot, a large Newfoundland dog that was sleeping near the stove when the ship began to sink.”

“Most of the men had no coats or rain gear and quickly got cold,” Baillod said. But locals “revived the frozen crew and provided them with food and dry clothing before the crew caught the schooner JP Merrill, which took them to Chicago.”

Historians have not yet shared the ship’s exact location to ensure the fragile wooden hull and historical artifacts are safe. However, they said they plan to nominate Trinidad for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places to “bring more visibility to the site,” which they call “an important part of the community history of Alcoma and the surrounding area.”

After the site is fully documented, the site will also be made public so technical divers can visit, they added.

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