Sunday, September 24, 2023

How many ships lie at the bottom of the Great Lakes?

The Great Lakes boast a rich history of commercial and recreational boating, serving as vital transportation routes for the United States and Canada. But with a history dating back hundreds of years, it’s no surprise that many ships have met their demise in these vast waters. So,?

According to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, over 6,000 ships have sunk in the Great Lakes region. Of those, approximately 1,500 are still missing and presumed to be at the bottom of the lakes. The Great Lakes are notoriously treacherous, with stormy weather, strong currents, and rocky shoals contributing to many shipwrecks over the centuries.

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The most famous shipwreck in the Great Lakes is the Edmund Fitzgerald, which sank in Lake Superior during a storm in 1975. All 29 crew members perished in the tragedy, which inspired the hit song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” by Gordon Lightfoot. The Edmund Fitzgerald is one of over 200 shipwrecks in Lake Superior alone.

Other well-known shipwrecks in the Great Lakes include the Carl D. Bradley, which sank in Lake Michigan in 1958, killing 33 crew members. The Cedarville, a freighter that collided with another ship in Lake Huron in 1965, also had a tragic outcome, with 10 crew members losing their lives.

But not all shipwrecks in the Great Lakes were catastrophic. Many ships were intentionally sunk in order to create artificial reefs for fish to live and breed on. These intentional sinkings, known as “shipwrecks as artificial reefs,” provide a unique opportunity for scuba diving and underwater exploration.

One of the most notable intentional sinkings is the USS Niagara, a replica of a 19th-century warship that was sunk in Lake Erie in 1988. The ship now serves as an artificial reef and popular diving site.

In addition to the numerous shipwrecks, the Great Lakes also boast a wealth of sunken planes, cars, and other objects. These sunken artifacts provide a glimpse into the region’s history and offer a unique opportunity for divers and historians alike.

Despite the many shipwrecks in the Great Lakes, commercial shipping continues to thrive in the region. Modern technology, improved navigation systems, and stricter safety regulations have helped to reduce the number of shipwrecks in recent years. Nevertheless, the Great Lakes will always be remembered for its rich maritime history and the many ships that now lie at the bottom of its waters.

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