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Great Lakes Essential Resources: Shipwrecks

Last Updated: Nov 15, 2022 10:38 AM

Crossing one of North America's greatest waterways could be dangerous and many ships were lost in the Great Lakes due to storms or other accidents. It is estimated that there are over 6,000 shipwrecks in the Great Lakes, some dating back as far as the 17th century. The cold lake temperatures and fresh water creates an ideal climate for the preservation of these vessels that allows for their study. Some of these "time capsules" are in shallow water and can be viewed from kayaks, boats, and other watercrafts. Others can be viewed by diving wrecks while snorkeling and many wrecks are in deeper water that require scuba gear and more specialized equipment.

Surrounding states have laws and regulations concerning wreck diving in order to protect the surrounding environment and historic wrecks themselves.

Below are online resources, videos, and book recommendations on the various shipwrecks of the Great Lakes. General resources are provided, as well as links to specific lakes.

(Sources: Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, Michigan Shipwrecks)

Griffith Burning

A depiction of the steamship G. P. Griffith burning on 17 June 1850, Lloyd's steamboat directory, and disasters on the western waters by James T. Lloyd

Lightship after sinking

Image of the lightship LV-82 Buffalo after it was raised in 1915. The ship was sunk with all hands during the Great Lakes Storm of 1913. It was repaired and returned to service in 1917.

Shipwrecks of the Great Lakes

Laws & Regulations

General Resources

Notable Wrecks

General Resources

Notable Wrecks

General Resources

Notable Wrecks

General Resources

Notable Wrecks

General Resources

Notable Wrecks

Sunken Treasure

Source: YouTube

Great Lakes and Surrounding States

White Hurricane, by David G. Brown, 2002. Map showing shipwrecks lost in the Great Lakes Storm of 1913 from November 7 through November 10, 1913.