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Shipwreck from the 1880s is identified as the Contest thanks to shifting Lake Michigan water levels

Shipwreck from the 1880s that emerges every few years due to Lake Michigan tidal waters is finally identified as the long-lost Contest

  • A shipwreck has appeared four times along the shore of Lake Michigan – 1947, 1974, 2018 and 2021
  • It was previously speculated to be remains of the 170-foot-long Woodruff, but experts determined otherwise 
  • Following an analysis of measuring, they say it is the Contest that shipped goods along Lake Michigan 

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Changing water levels in Lake Michigan have opened a window to the past by carving away parts of a dune, revealing a shipwreck from the 1880s.

The weathered vessel has emerged from its grave three times in the past, and Mother Nature has again worked her magic to bring it back to the surface.

It was previously believed to be the 170-foot-long Woodruff, but experts now suspect the remains belong to the Contest that delivered grain and wood along Lake Michigan.

The 126-foot ship’s backbone, centerboard trunk and ribs are all that remain of the Contest and researchers speculate the pieces will again disappear under the sandy beach.

 

Changing water levels in Lake Michigan have opened a window to the past by carving away parts of a dune, revealing a shipwreck from the 1880s

Craig Rich, director of the Michigan Shipwreck Research Association (MSRA), said: ‘The lake is a very living organism and it changes every day, basically.’

‘It’s rare to get a glimpse of one. It’s a great little day trip for anybody who wants to visit that area.’

The shipwreck sits at the White Lake Channel mouth in Muskegon, which is a popular port city known for its fishing, boating and cruises.

Records show the weathered pieces first appeared along the shore in 1947 and then again in 1974 when Pete Caesar, a curator with the Michigan Shipwreck Association (MSA), set out to uncover its secrets.

It was previously believed to be the 170-foot-long Woodruff, but experts now suspect the remains belong to the Contest that delivered grain and wood along Lake Michigan

It was previously believed to be the 170-foot-long Woodruff, but experts now suspect the remains belong to the Contest that delivered grain and wood along Lake Michigan

He searched archives for photos of when it was first spotted in 1947 and concluded it was the L.C. Woodruff, a 170-foot-long schooner that sunk in the lake back in 1878.

The wreckage was again covered with sand and rising water levels until 2018 when news surfaced that the ‘Ghost Ship’ Woodruff had returned once again.

However, it was not until the recent appearance did experts conclude the remains belong to the long-lost Contest.

The MSA team were able to measure the trunk holding the spin and ribs in place, which concluded to be around 120-feet long – similar to the measurements of the intact Contest.

‘On this wreck, the centerboard box starts about 40 feet back from the bow, and the slot measures just over 20 feet. That put the center of the ship at about 60 feet, MSA shared in a blog post.

‘Double that and the wreck is some 120 feet long give or take. Due to degradation and sand covering, we cannot be precise.’

‘But we could rule out the 170-foot Woodruff once and for all, leaving the 126-foot Contest as the most logical conclusion.’

There is little historical data about the Contest, but what is known is that the ship was plagued with bad luck. 

The MSA team were able to measure the trunk holding the spin and ribs in place, which concluded to be around 120-feet long u2013 similar to the measurements of the intact Contest

The MSA team were able to measure the trunk holding the spin and ribs in place, which concluded to be around 120-feet long – similar to the measurements of the intact Contest

Pictured is a boat that was similar to the Contest

Pictured is a boat that was similar to the Contest

In October 1855, the ship suffered a collision in Lake Huron; in April 1868, it sprang a leak and lost cargo; and in September 1868, it sank and was raised, incurring a loss of $11,000.

‘From official enrollment documents, we learned that the 126-foot long, two-masted schooner was built at Buffalo, New York in 1855 for Hart Newman & Co. It sailed on Lakes Erie, Huron, and Michigan, operating, according to records, in the grain trade, MSA stated.

The Contest: A ship plagued with bad luck 

There is little historical data about the Contest, but what is known is that the ship was plagued with bad luck. 

In October 1855, the ship suffered a collision in Lake Huron; in April 1868, it sprang a leak and lost cargo; and in September 1868, it sank and was raised, incurring a loss of $11,000.

It was built in 1855 and was used to ship grain, wood and stone along Lake Michigan.

The ship measured around 126-feet-long.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk