Earlier this summer, two maritime historians from Wisconsin found the intact remains of a 156-year-old schooner that sank in Lake Michigan in 1881 in what historians last week called a “remarkable discovery,” CBS News reported.
Historians Robert Jaeck and Brendon Baillod found the Trinidad in July just miles from the Wisconsin coastline 270 feet beneath the surface of Lake Michigan using side-scan sonar in the approximate location provided in survivor accounts in historical records.
After locating the wreck of the Trinidad, Jaeck and Baillod reported their discovery to an underwater archeologist from the Wisconsin Historical Society who then arranged for an underwater survey of the vessel both to verify the schooner’s identity and document the artifacts.
With the survey complete, the Wisconsin Historical Society described the Trinidad as one of the “best-preserved shipwrecks” discovered in Wisconsin waters.
The schooner’s deckhouse remains intact and crew possessions, deck gear, and its anchors are all still present.
The 140-foot Trinidad schooner was built in 1867 by shipwright William Keefe in Grand Island, New York. It was primarily used to ship grain between Oswego, New York, Milwaukee, and Chicago.
But on May 13, 1881, while carrying coal to Milwaukee, the Trinidad developed a catastrophic leak after passing through the ship canal at Sturgeon Bay.
Approximately ten miles off the coast of Algoma, Wisconsin, the schooner suddenly lurched violently and began to sink. Captain John Higgins and his 8-man crew escaped but the Trinidad’s mascot, a Newfoundland dog was lost, according to the Wisconsin Historical Society.
After rowing for eight hours in the schooner’s yawl, the captain and crew reached Algoma. According to historical records, Captain Higgins believed that the Trinidad’s hull had been damaged days before it sank while it was passing through the ice fields in the Mackinac Straits.