116-year-old shipwreck discovered in Lake Michigan

MUSKEGON, Mich. (AP) — A 214-foot steamship called the John V. Moran has been discovered in Lake Michigan, more than a century after it sank.

A team with the Michigan Shipwreck Research Association located the vessel off the coast of Muskegon last month during a sonar search. Because the shipwreck sits under 365 feet of lake water, officials with the association decided to wait for the water to warm up before performing a dive.

With help from the Michigan State Police Underwater Recovery Unit, the team reached the wreck on July 8, just over 116 years after the ship sank.

Valerie van Heest, co-director of the association, said the John V. Moran is one of the best-preserved wrecks in the Great Lakes. The ship sits upright at the bottom of Lake Michigan and is almost entirely intact.

“Not a railing is missing,” said Craig Rich, the group’s other co-director who’s also a master diver and former Holland City Council member. The association is based in the Michigan city of Holland. “The mast is standing. The lights are standing. The anchors are in position. There’s even glass still in the windows.”

“The only thing missing from this wreck is the smokestack.”

The John V. Moran was on its way from Milwaukee to Muskegon when it disappeared into the chilly waters of Lake Michigan in February 1899, after ice punched a hole in the hull and the ship began to flood. The vessel was among many steamers owned by Capt. Edward Gifford Crosby, founder of the Crosby Transportation Co. who later died in the sinking of the Titanic.

“The John V. Moran has been on our hit list for quite a while,” Rich said. “We’ve quietly been researching it, and decided this year we’d go out after it.”

The Michigan State Police Underwater Recovery Unit has discovered 15 other historic shipwrecks.

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