Atlanta Shipwreck found in Lake Superior after 131 years

Atlanta Shipwreck found in Lake Superior after 131 years

The 130-year-old wreckage of the ship Atlanta has finally been discovered at the bottom of Lake Superior some 35 miles off Deer Park, Michigan. The well-preserved wreckage was found at a depth of 200m (650 ft).

The gold letters of the ship's name, alongside ornate scrolling, emerged out of the dark as the ROV approached the wreck.

The Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society (GLSHS) announced that the wreck of the Atlanta, a three-masted schooner-barge, was located by sonar in the summer of 2021  but the discovery wasn't made public until research had been conducted to give the wreck context, according to Corey Adkins, the communications and content director of GLSHS.

Carrying a load of coal, the 172-foot schooner barge sank during a storm on May 4, 1891, while being towed by the steamer Wilhelm. Caught in a northwest gale the towline snapped and efforts to raise Atlanta's sails were unsuccessful which left it at the mercy of the storm. The ship started leaking and after battling all night and into the next morning, the captain ordered the crew into the lifeboat.

The crew pulled at the oars for several hours and eventually came within sight of the Crisp Point Life-Saving Station. While attempting to land their small boat near the station, it overturned and only two of the crew made it safely to the beach.  Five of the seven sailors, including a woman who served as Atlanta's cook, died.

Sonar Atlanta
Sonar image of the Altanta


The Atlanta is well-preserved in the extremely cold lake, the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society (GLSHS) stated.

The group posted photos and videos taken by an ROV (Remote Operated Vehicle) where the name of the ship is clearly visible and also showing the remains of a wheel, toilets and broken masts.

"You can still see all the wood, you can see the toilet seats, you can see the pumps, you can see the masts broken off on the Atlanta, you can see the wheel sticking out of the sand — it's something else to see these time capsules." Corey Adkins, a spokesperson for the society, told NPR News.

It is rare that we find a shipwreck that so clearly announces what it is and the name-board of the Atlanta really stands out.

Bruce Lynn, Executive Director of the GLSHS


Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society

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