The long walk down the Dune Climb trail to Lake Michigan has blessed hikers with an added gift this fall. Not just the azure waters at the conclusion of the 2.5-mile hike in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore — but a shipwreck. The historic windstorm two weeks ago probably pushed the wreck up onto the beach, where chairman of Friends of the Sleeping Bear Dunes Kerry Kelly and others have gazed at and photographed the 16 feet by 40 feet remnants of a wooden ship. Follow Kelly’s blog here.
Photographs by Kerry Kelly
“It is huge, and it is heavy, and it is out of the water,” Kelly said. “Those winds must have been blowing out there.” According to Kelly, the wreck now rests about a quarter mile north of where the Dune Trail meets the beach.
Is this one of two ships lost in the Manitou Passage 150 years ago? Here’s what the Traverse City Record-Eagle wrote yesterday about the wreck’s possible DNA:
The most recent shipwreck appears to be a propeller-driven steamer, not a schooner, said Laura Quackenbush, museum technician with Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
The ship piece offers evidence it was constructed to accommodate the weight of a boiler and steam system, Quackenbush said.
She contacted Steve Harold, director of the Manistee County Historical Museum, who said the shipwreck could be that of the St. Nicholas or the General Taylor — both lost during fall months in the mid-19th century.
The St. Nicholas carried wheat when it started to leak and became stranded in Sleeping Bear Bay in November 1857. The General Taylor was stranded in October 1862 near Sleeping Bear Point.
Both ships were wrecked near where the wooden hull washed ashore, said Harold, author of “Shipwrecks of the Sleeping Bear.” Determining its identity will be harder, since wood can float for miles and no name or serial numbers were recovered.