Explorers prepare to identify mysterious Lake Michigan shipwreck

Explorers who have been stationed in Charlevoix are preparing for an expedition on Lake Michigan this weekend.

They hope to identify a shipwreck that they believe is the first European ship to travel the Great Lakes.

After 30 years of searching, a team of experts believe they have found the site where the Le Griffon wrecked in 1679.

They believe the ship is buried just off of the coast of Poverty Island near Fairport in Michiganâ??s western upper peninsula.

A small crew of divers and underwater archaeologists took their boat, the Viking, and its crew out to the site.

â??Depending on what we think is the bow, it would be in 32 feet of water and the sterns in probably about 62 feet,â?? Great Lakes Exploration Group President Steve Libert.

Divers explored the cold depths of Lake Michigan to check out the site before they head down to retrieve pieces of the wreckage tomorrow.

â??It could reveal artifacts that will give us a much better idea of what period and affiliation a cultural site may be,â?? Le Griffon Project Manager Ken Vrana explained.

Divers must remove sand and zebra mussels from site. After that, they hope to uncover the main body of the ship and other pieces of history.

â??What you would really like to find is some sort of pieces that are stamped with official insignia from the government of France that can be dated,â?? Archaeologist Misty Jackson said.

Franceâ??s top underwater Archaeologists will join the expedition Saturday to examine the items in the wreck and will be able to identify the origins of the ship.

â??We donâ??t know 100% if this is the Le Griffon or not, but thatâ??s pretty much is it or isnâ??t it, but I think there is a good chance that it is,â?? Libert said.

7&4â??s Nathan Edwards has exclusive access on the expedition and will have updates each night on 7&4 News at 6.