Shipwreck remains revealed near Ludington State Park.

April 25, 2020

MCHS photo

Shipwreck remains revealed near Ludington State Park.

HAMLIN TOWNSHIP — Remains of a shipwreck have recently been revealed on the beach near the entrance of the Ludington State Park. The Mason County Historical Society reported on its Facebook page that it had been notified by the Michigan Shipwreck Research Association of the shipwreck.

MCHS photo

Eric Harmsen, site manager for the MCHS’s Port of Ludington Maritime Museum investigated the scene on Saturday, April 25. Harmsen took measurements and photographs that can be used to work on a possible identification. The construction and measurements are consistent with schooners built between the 1850s and 1880s.

High water tends to reveal long-buried shipwrecks, and several around Lake Michigan have recently become visible. The waters between Big Sable Point and Little Sable Point are notoriously dangerous. Dozens of ships have become total losses between the points, some in deep water offshore, but many more grounding near shore. Some were salvaged if not too badly damaged, others were left to break up in the surf. As shown in the museum’s current shipwreck exhibit, over 300 ships have grounded on the west coast of Michigan over the last 170 years, at least 20 of those between the two points. A few years ago workers at the Ludington State Park recovered a large wooden windlass that had washed up on the beach, it is possible that the two may be related.

Working with our partners at MSRA, comparing the wreckage with historical records we have identified five possible vessels that the wreckage could be from: The ‘J.B. Skinner’ built in 1841, the ‘George F. Foster’ built in 1852, the ‘J.O. Moss’ built in 1863, the ‘Eclipse’ built in 1852, and the ‘Orphan Boy’ built in 1862. There are no known photos of any of these vessels.

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