Shipwreck from 1881 Discovered Nearly Intact in Lake Michigan

Historic Image of the Trinidad
Wisconsin Historical Society/Facebook

A 142-year-old shipwreck was discovered ten miles off the shoreline of Algoma, Wisconsin.

The search for the Trinidad, a cargo ship built in 1867, ended two years after Brendon Baillod, president of the Wisconsin Underwater Archaeology Association, and Robert Jaeck began it, the New York Times reported. It was found nearly fully intact under 300 feet of water in Lake Michigan.  

“We were stunned to see that not only was the deckhouse still on her, but it still had all the cabinets with all the dishes stacked in them and all the crew’s effects,”Baillod told the Times, adding “It’s really like a ship in a bottle. It’s a time capsule.”

Only Known Historic Image of the TRINIDAD | John S. Rochon Collection Facebook/Wisconsin Historical Society
: Sonar Image of the TRINIDAD | Tom Crossmon, Crossmon Consulting
: 3D Image of the TRINIDAD | Tamara Thomsen, WHS & Zach Whitrock
: Volunteer Diver Zach Whitrock descend on the TRINIDAD| Tamara Thomsen, WHS
: Wheel of the TRINIDAD | Tamara Thomsen, WHS
: Intact Deck House of the TRINIDAD | Tamara Thomsen, WHS.   Wisconsin Historical Society/Facebook

The Trinidad ship was 140 feet in length, and it was known as a “schooner,” a term used to  describe sailing ships with two or more masts, according to the Guardian. It was used to transport grain between Milwaukee and Chicago to cities on the East Coast. 

“If you lived in Philadelphia, Boston or New York in the 1860s and ’70s and you’re eating a sandwich, the bread in that sandwich was almost certainly grown in Wisconsin and brought on a schooner,” Baillod said. 

Despite being revered as one of the “finest schooners made” it was poorly managed, constantly dealing with leaks.

On the day it sank on May 11, 1881, the ship began to take on water during the morning hours. Captain John Higgins and his eight man crew safely evacuated on a lifeboat, with the only casualty being a Newfoundland dog. They suffered hypothermia. Baillod and Jaeck were able to find the shipwreck thanks to Higgins giving a detailed account of where the ship wrecked. 

“She’s not the only ship that’s in really good shape out in Wisconsin waters, but I’d say she’s top two or three,” Baillod said. 

Last October, Breitbart News reported a 300 foot ship found at the bottom of Lake Superior from over 100 years ago. 



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