Society Magazine

Possible Excitement at the Bottom of the Great Lakes

Posted on the 03 July 2013 by Candornews @CandorNews

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A few weekends ago, a search was conducted at Lake Michigan. A length of wood was discovered sticking up out of the lake bed. This single piece is thought to be at least 300 years old. The age of the wood made archaeologists believe it was from a ship that sailed in the 1600’s. They had reason to believe that they had found the location of Robert La Salle’s ship, Le Griffon.

Robert La Salle was a French explorer in the late 1600’s. When he first arrived in North America in 1666, he was a poor colonist, but he quickly adjusted to his new life, organizing villages and learning about the land and its inhabitants. Many early settlers and explorers believed there was a river route that went straight through the continent and would eventually lead to China, and La Salle thought the same. Like so many others, La Salle wanted to be the first to find this profitable trade route. Needless to say, he never found it, although he did eventually make his way as far west as present-day Texas.

La Salle had Le Griffon built in the wilderness near Niagara Falls. It was a three mast ship armed with two cannons and three rail guns, and was built for transporting men and supplies. In August of 1697, La Salle and his men sailed from Niagara Falls, landing near present-day Detroit. Their next stop was St. Ingace, and then to Green Bay, picking up supplies and men along the way. In September of 1697, La Salle sent Le Griffon and a small crew back up to Niagara to collect supplies in order to build a new fort and another sailing vessel. After setting sail from present-day Washington Islands, Le Griffon was never seen again.

To this day, no one is quite sure what happened to Le Griffon. Storms, mutiny, and Indian attacks were the most popular and probable of the rumors. However, no remains or evidence of what happened to Le Griffon were ever found, and the solution would not be as simple as searching the bottom of Lake Michigan. Thousands of shipwrecks litter the Great Lakes. Finding Le Griffon among them would be quite a feat.

Divers dredged around the piece of wood. The signs were promising. It appeared to be timber from a French-made ship. After a week of dredging and looking for artifacts, the ship remains unidentified. Archaeologists hope to continue searching the area for the ship.

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