Researchers discovered a 137-year-old shipwreck in the depths of Lake Michigan using sonar imaging

  • Researchers used sonar to locate a long-lost shipwreck in Lake Michigan.

  • The steamship Milwaukee was discovered "remarkably intact."

  • The 135-foot ship sank in 1886 after colliding with another boat.

Maritime researchers located the remnants of a long-lost steamer ship off the coast of western Michigan using sonar and historical newspaper accounts.

The Michigan Shipwreck Research Association announced the discovery of the "remarkably intact" steamship Milwaukee during an event last month, according to a Facebook post from the organization.

The 135-foot-long steamship had been lost in the depths of Lake Michigan ever since it sank in about 360 feet of water after colliding with another ship in July 1886.

Researchers with the shipwreck association first spotted the remains of the Milwaukee in June 2023 while using side-scan sonar, mapping technology used for detecting and imaging seafloor objects, the organization said. They spent the next few months working to film the wreck and confirm its identity, ultimately employing a remote-operated vehicle, or ROV, built specifically for this project, according to the group.

The organization relied heavily on historical newspapers recounting the Milwaukee's sinking to corroborate the wreck's identity, matching the steamer's intended course with its exact resting place.

"News accounts of the accident, as well as the study of water currents, led us to the Milwaukee after only two days searching," said Neel Zoss, the researcher who first spotted the wreck on sonar.

The Milwaukee is the 19th shipwreck the association has discovered off the shores of Michigan. Last year, the group announced the discoveries of a 190-foot cargo vessel that sank in Lake Huron amid blustery winds in 1894 and a 140-foot schooner that sank in Lake Michigan in 1881.

The Northern Transportation Company of Ohio first commissioned the Milwaukee in 1868 as a passenger steamer, according to the association. The three-deck ship spent 18 years carrying settlers and supplies westward across the Great Lakes before it sank.

The Milwaukee departed Chicago on July 9, 1868, headed for Muskegon to retrieve a load of lumber, according to newspaper accounts of its sinking. A similar ship, the C. Hickox, left Muskegon that same night, headed for Chicago with a full load of lumber, the association said.

Waters were initially calm when a lookout on the Milwaukee spotted lights from the Hickox across the lake. But a thick fog soon blanketed the lake, leaving both ships blind. When the fog finally parted, the two ships were upon each other.

The Hickox "plowed into the side of the Milwaukee," according to the shipwreck association, nearly capsizing the ship. Water soon started pouring into the Milwaukee as crew members escaped on the lifeboat.

Attempts to save the steamer ultimately failed. Nearly two hours after the crash, the Milwaukee sank beneath the waters. Everyone on board safely made it to the Hickox before the ship disappeared.

Read the original article on Business Insider