Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates said it has located the Hamilton, a two-masted schooner that sank in Lake Michigan in 1873 during a November gale.
The identification of the wreck, which sits upright in 85m (275 ft) of water off Saugatuck, took over a year and was facilitated by technical scuba divers Todd White of Saugatuck, Bob Underhill of Kalamazoo and Jeff Vos of Holland working in conjunction with Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates (MSRA). These three divers comprise the premiere deep technical dive team in West Michigan.
The 113-foot long Hamilton was built in 1847 in Oswego, New York, for the Red Bird Line and plied the Great Lakes for a quarter century before foundering between the lumber port of Muskegon and Chicago. Capt. Harvey L. Burch and his six-man crew left Muskegon on a cold November morning in 1873 with a cargo of 117,000 board feet of lumber bound for the ongoing rebuilding effort in Chicago, which had only recently been devastated by the Great Fire of 1871. By noon the southbound vessel encountered heavy seas and began to take on water.
The crew manned the hand-operated pumps for three hours before taking to the 17-foot yawl boat.
They stayed alongside their waterlogged vessel until midnight, when she finally sank beneath the waves in 270 feet of water, leaving the men storm-tossed in an open boat. Prevailing winds pushed the little boat, now covered with ice, ashore near South Haven the next day.
Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates is partially funded through a grant and private contributions. Click on the following link if you want to become a member and support the ongoing work of MSRA