Lake Michigan’s Undiscovered Shipwreck “Cluster”

By January 26, 2015 Uncategorized No Comments

Diver Ross Richardson claims to have located a previously-undiscovered shipwreck cluster in northern Lake Michigan. Richardson believes the five wrecks he found may include that of the 226-foot sidewheel steamer AD Patchin, lost in 1850; and the 150-foot brig Julia Dean, which sank in 1855. Kemplon Engineering takes a look at the news around this exciting find.

Image: Screen Capture. “Skillagalee Wreck Site A” by nmiwrecks via YouTube. Published 08 Nov 2014. Accessed 22 Nov 2014.

A Fascinating GoPro Video
Richardson had uncovered the cluster of wrecks over last summer, around the Island of Skillagalee. His mission was to find undiscovered wrecks with a decent last known, attainable position. The wreck he believes to be that of the AD Patchin, for instance, is just about 30 to 35 feet beneath the water.

The area Richardson had found the wrecks in is known to have a reef system that may have felled vessels before better navigation information and the building of a nearby lighthouse served as a warning to the dangers beneath the surface of the water. Another source of danger is piracy, which the Julia Dean’s captain had blamed the vessel’s loss on.

The three remaining wrecks are not yet identified. Richardson says it’s harder to have more than an educated guess about the identities of ships in shallow water wrecks, given damage from wave action and ice.

The avid diver had docuented his finds via a GoPro camera attached to a pole, a technique that placed the diver in the shot for better perspective. Richardson is also a writer and speaker on Michigan’s maritime history, and maintains a website, Michigan Mysteries, at

Shipwrecks are a vivid snapshot of a lost time. They are reminders of the past, and that of the romance, mystery and danger of our waters.

^ Associated Press. “Diver: 5 shipwrecks discovered in Lake Michigan.” Detroit Free Press, 10 Nov 2014. Web. 22 Nov 2014.
^ Chicklas, Dana. “Diver films discovery of possible ship wrecks in Lake Michigan.” Fox 17 West Michigan, 10 Nov 2014. Web. 22 Nov 2014.
^ Darcy, Oliver. “’Right Here in Our Backyard’: Diver Makes Previously Undiscovered Find Below Lake Michigan’s Surface.” The Blaze, 10 Nov 2014. Web. 22 Nov 2014.
^ Ellison, Garet. “On remote Lake Michigan shoal, diver finds undiscovered shipwreck cluster.” MLive, 10 Nov 2014. Web. 22 Nov 2014.
^ Marex. “Watch: Lake Michigan Holds Shipwreck Cluster.” Maritime Executive, 11 Nov 2014. Web. 22 Nov 2014.