Footage shows 129-year-old shipwreck found intact in Lake Huron

Researchers have discovered wreckage from a ship that sank in Lake Huron 129 years ago, claiming the lives of five sailors.

Footage of the shipwreck has allowed researchers to identify the vessel as the sailing ship Ironton, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Marine Sanctuaries.

“Using this cutting-edge technology, we have not only located a pristine shipwreck lost for over a century, we are also learning more about one of our nation’s most important natural resources—the Great Lakes,” said Jeff Gray, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary superintendent.

The 191-foot Ironton was discovered in the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, adding to nearly 100 historic shipwrecks found in the area off the Michigan coast.

NOAA reported that the Ironton sank in Sept. 1894 and claimed the lives of five of the ship’s seven crew members.

The full recounting of the ship’s demise can be read on the NOAA website. It includes accounts from the surviving members who said in the chaos of the ship’s sinking that the crew forgot to untie the “painter,” a line that secured the lifeboat to Ironton.

Survivor William W. Parry said told the Duluth News Tribune in 1894 that the “Ironton sank, taking the yawl with her. As the painter was not untied, I sank underwater, and when I came up grabbed a sailor’s bag. Wooley was a short distance from me on a box. I swam to where he was.”

Footage of the shipwreck, which can be viewed in the media player at the top of this article, shows the doomed lifeboat still attached to the stern of the sunken ship.

The ROV footage of Ironton hauntingly reveals the lifeboat still lashed to the sunken ship’s stern. A lifeboat that could have saved five men. (NOAA/Undersea Vehicles Program UNCW)

NOAA reports that the two survivors of the Ironton were spotted by a passing steamer after hours of clinging to wreckage in the frigid waters of Lake Huron.

Want to dive into more historic shipwrecks? The Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary has videos of more wrecks found in the area.

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