Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Shipwreck Blog: Steamer Westmoreland, Lake Michigan

Sank with a cargo of whiskey, gold, and sled dogs.

MANITOU PASSAGE, MI — After 18 hours spent battling a blizzard on Lake Michigan, the fate of the Westmoreland was sealed less than three miles from safety.

At 10 a.m. on Dec. 7, 1854, rising water in the bilge finally extinguished the fire in the boiler, leaving the cargo-laden steamer powerless and thrown to the mercy of heavy, icy seas off a then-remote stretch of Lake Michigan coastline.

Half the souls on board the Westmoreland would soon perish in the deep, frigid waters of Platte Bay. The other half would spread the legend of a ship reputed to be carrying $100,000 in gold coins in her safe, and 280 barrels of whiskey in her hold, sparking more than a century of treasure hunters that would search in vain for the wreck.

Click the link to read the rest. As I've noted before, shipwrecks in high latitudes (and corresponding cold water) tend to stay in a remarkably good state of preservation compared with shipwrecks in the temperate and torrid zones.

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