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4-year-old girl and her father make historic discovery finding never-before-seen shipwreck while fishing

What their fishing gadget had spotted turned out to be a 152-year-old historic shipwreck.

  • A father-daughter duo from Wisconsin discovered a 152-year-old shipwreck
  • The pair were on a fishing trip on Lake Michigan in August 2023
  • The shipwreck was caused by the deadliest fire in the history of the US.

Published on Dec 30, 2023 at 8:30PM (UTC+4)

Last updated on Jan 9, 2024 at 1:24PM (UTC+4)

Edited by Adam Gray
4-year-old girl and her father make historic discovery finding never-before-seen shipwreck while fishing

A father-daughter duo from Wisconsin, discovered a 152-year-old historic shipwreck on a recent fishing trip with her father.

Four-year-old Henley Wollack and her father, Tim, were on his boat in Lake Michigan on 13 August, 2023.

Using their FishFinder device, something caught the pair’s eye that they quickly shrugged off.

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However, it turned out to be something that had remained hidden in the depths for 152 years.

And it’s not the only discovery made in the depths this year, with $20 billion discovered aboard one sunken vessel and an 8,000-yer-old relic found in Naples that changed views on Neolithic history.

Not enough? This Ancient Chinese city was found perfectly preserved at the bottom of a lake.

Back to this summer and Henley had asked her dad to go swimming and play with rocks and sea glass off the southeast shore of Lake Michigan’s Green Island.

Meanwhile, her father, Tim, had plans to use their day on the water to get some fishing done.

The duo met in the middle, agreeing to go to Henley’s favorite spot and go ‘real slow’ along the route to look for fish.

As they entered shallow waters that are barely 10 feet deep, Tim realized it was an area where hundreds of vessels had been lost over the years.

So a strange shape on the sonar didn’t immediately pique his interest.

Tim’s boat is equipped with FishFinder.

The sonar device sends waves to the bottom of the sea and converts reflected waves into imagery.

On seeing the screen, Tim immediately realised this was a unique find.

Henley, meanwhile, thought she’d spotted an octopus.

Turning back in an attempt to see it again, Tim realized he could see the hull of a shipwreck.

He took some pictures of the shipwreck to share with his friends.

He later posted them to the Forgotten Wisconsin page on Facebook.

He believed it could be the wreckage of a ship called Erie L. Hackley, however, within an hour he discovered he was wrong.

Members of the Wisconsin Historical Society reached out to Tim and confirmed that the Erie L. Hackley was actually sunk elsewhere.

However, earlier this month, a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) was deployed to investigate.

And what it imaged hadn’t been seen by human eyes for over one and a half centuries.

It was the wreckage of a three-masted sailing ship.

While it wasn’t as useful as this abandoned shipwreck, which was converted into a middle-of-the-ocean gaming lounge – it did have historical significance.

Taking the data and location into consideration, researchers believe it belongs to a ship called George L. Newman.

The historic shipwreck, measuring 122 feet (37 m) long and 26.3 feet (8 m) wide, was built in 1855 by Benjamin Flint.

On the night of 8 October, 1871, the ship was sailing through the area hauling lumber.

As fate would have it, that was the same evening as the Peshtigo Fire – the deadliest fire in the history of the US.

It’s thought brush fire started by railroad workers in the area grew into an inferno that scorched 1.5 million acres of land and claimed 1,200 lives.

The thick smoke from the fire forced the lighthouse keeper to keep the lights on even during the day.

However, after becoming enveloped in thick smoke, the George L. Newman ran aground.

The lighthouse keeper was able to rescue the crew, who stayed at the lighthouse for a week.

Although they salvaged what they could from the wrecked vessel, years later it was covered with sand.

It was never identified as a shipwreck until Henley and Tim spotted it this summer.

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