Skip to comments.Low water exposes century-old shipwreck on Grand Haven's Harbor Island
Posted on 12/16/2012 9:22:43 PM PST by shove_it
GRAND HAVEN, MI The remains of a wooden steamer built 125 years ago recently were uncovered in the Grand River, a surprising benefit of the historically low water levels.
The wooden sections of the 290-foot steamer Aurora, which burned in 1932, and parts of at least four other shipwreck hulks were exposed by the receding water line near the edges of Harbor Island. West Michigan maritime researchers deemed the Aurora the most significant of the finds, as it was once the largest wooden steamer on the Great Lakes.
After being alerted to the wooden pieces by area residents, Holland-based Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates (MSRA) members and officials with the Tri-Cities Historical Museum in Grand Haven investigated and surveyed the larger wreck, featuring the hull, sides and the propeller shaft cradle at the stern. The bow appeared buried and a survey by MSRA east of the visible portion revealed a structure well over 200 feet long, verifying the wreck as that of the Aurora...
(Excerpt) Read more at mlive.com ...
But I thought Algore said all the sea levels are rising.
A piece of the 290-foot shipwreck Aurora is exposed as seen on December 11, 2012 in Grand Haven due to low water levels in the Grand River. The ship was built in 1887 and lies just east of the public boat launch ramp on Harbor Island.
More photos at article link.
That evil coal fired power plant in the background of the photo at reply #4 is the culprit.
Grand Haven is on the land locked sea of Lake Michigan, it is lacking in artic ice the last time I looked. :)
Those ice floes stack up pretty tall on the Michigan shore. Lots of photos at Google.
thanks for information
A couple of yeas ago there was a video posted of the ice crashing through someone’s livingroom window on Saginaw bay I believe.
If she ran up the beach, the bow may be essentially gone -- except for a massive amount of those iron connecting members. However, those may well have been 'salvaged' soon after the accident...
(FWIW, Michigan seems to have gotten the short end of the stick on Google-published overflights. All the other dates are of such poor quality as to be essentialy useless for OHI archaeology...
I thought the bow was visible but after re-reading the article, that is the stern - you are correct.
Mrs. shove_it has friends whose Lake Huron cottage was demolished by ice back in the 1980's. This isn't their cottage in the photo, however.
FWIW, those (~2' thick?) hull walls have a surprisingly complex structure. IMHO, it would be worthwhile to excavate a buried (and intact) section, measure and document it thoroughly, and have a marine architect do a computer reconstruction of that hull wall structure. From that, with adequate measurements of the overall hull remains, a computer (CAD) reconstruction of the hull would be doable.
Thank you for that insight! BTW, that looks like a strange fore-aft attitude — even for an (apparently) unladen wooden ship. Must have been heavy stuff in that aft engine room...
Found a thread with some screen caps (including the pic you posted)
Hah. Thanks for the memories. We don’t get much in the way of ice floes down here in Melbourne Beach.
Until I read she was "dragged" to her final position, I had envisioned her being run aground under power. Had she been empty, the bow would have been "high and dry" -- and would have burned clean to the ground
However, your account of her "dragged aground" demise (as a barge) simply means, "WYSIWYG": the bow would have to be excavated to determine its state...
It is very cool to see this in person, worth the trip if you are nearby.
The island has increased in size due to river sediment.
Apparently typical "delta ridge" growth that occurs where the current slows and sediment falls out...
That's why I was trying to model the initial bow conditions: what are you likely to find if you expend the effort to remove the silt overburden?
I'm working on a ferryboat wreck in the sulphur River in Texas where half of it is buried under as much as 9 feet of silt. Fortunately that (unexposed) buried section is far better preserved than the end that remained out in the water and was sometimes exposed to the air.
However any part of the Aurora that was on dry land probably burned to the ground before it was covered by silt. Not much to be seen or learned from excavating that part of the hull... OTOH, if the island was a submerged sandbar when it was grounded and burned, there might still be a lot there...
You might enjoy this one...
It's not generally known today, but Harbor Island used to be the town dump. Anything that anyone didn't want or need ended up at Harbor Island. That's why there's remnants of at least 4 other ship "wrecks" in that area. They're not wrecks..they were dragged there to be disposed of.
Quite a few years ago they brought in a bunch of fill dirt and basically covered up the junk. There's a bunch history buried there.
There is actually trees and shrubs growing over the bow the article at “mlive.com explains it very well. It also has an overhead photo.
So, if the Aurora was, indeed, grounded in shallow water when she burned the last time, there should still be parts of her bow remaining beneath the soil of the island - as well as the parts we still see in the water.
I note that the article's OHI (OverHead Image) obscures the wreck with graphics -- so my effort creating the OHI that shows the actual hull wasn't totally wasted... '-)
Glad the folks in MI are treating these wrecks as the historical treasures they are! If any of you see additional articles on the wreck(s) and post them to FR, please ping me!!
Meanwhile, I have more than enough archaeological projects going here in Texas to keep me busier than a retired guy should be... ;-)
Interesting that it used to be the dump. I’ve driven over it many times on the bridge—my wife’s from Muskegon and I’ve spent a lot of summer days in Grand Haven—and it always struck me as a glorified mud bar.
|GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother & Ernest_at_the_Beach|
Thanks shove_it, TXnMA, and cripplecreek. I'll have to check that out if I get a chance.