140-year old shipwreck discovered on beach

Part of a ship that local historians believe sunk about 140-years ago has been found on a stretch of beach on Lake Michigan in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Lake Michigan holds hundreds of secrets, and this is a clue to one of them. For eight years, Kerry Kelly, a volunteer with Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore walked past this shipwreck, but he never knew exactly what it looked like.

Kerry Kelly says, "It was much larger than I had seen before. I've seen it for years, this time the entire thing was exposed, to see it above sand was exciting."

The piece measured about 50 feet long.

Kelly says "You have boards, some steel pieces sticking up through the boards, some planks are four or five inches thick."

Sleeping Bear Dunes historian, Laura Quackenbush, says dozens of boats shipwrecked during the 19th Century while traveling through the Manitou Passage.

Quackenbush says, "The passage was a shortcut between Chicago and Mackinaw Island, so a lot of boats traveled through even though it was risky."

She believes it could be part of the schooner Jennie and Annie, which was blown to shore in 1872 killing every crew member except one.

Quackenbush says, "It is all speculation. That was a theory because there are pieces that come to shore and we know its there, but we will probably never know exactly."

Even though experts may never be able to tell exactly where it came from, it's still part of Northern Michigan's history, something that visitors will be able to see for years to come.

Kelly says, "You never know, and that is part of the fun. Our beaches are so dynamic, changing all the time."

Northwestern Michigan College's underwater archeology department is planning to research the discovery in a few months.

It's located a couple miles west from the Glen Haven trail-head. It is north of Empire, but south of Sleeping Bear Point.