Maritime Lecture Series: Exploring Shipwrecks and Lighthouses in Northern Lake Michigan

The Michigan Maritime Museum’s Maritime Lecture Series, Shipwrecks & Lighthouses continues with author and shipwreck hunter Ross Richardson on March 25th as he explores the Manitou and Beaver Passage, home to the largest collection of lighthouses and shipwrecks in all of Lake Michigan. Michigan is a land of mysteries surrounded by vast inland seas with mysteries of their own. Sometimes, history is a puzzle. When we put all the pieces together, we see an image, a snapshot into our past. Sometimes the puzzle pieces are all there.  Sometimes, a few, or even many of the puzzle pieces are missing.  Research gives us the opportunity to find some of these missing pieces and make the image clearer and more complete.

In September of 2018, Richardson stumbled across a few puzzle pieces in the form of a small schooner, lying on the bottom of Lake Michigan near Sleeping Bear Point. This sailing vessel was by no means the largest vessel missing in the Manitou Passage.  In fact, she looked to be one of the smallest.  “Now I’m pretty well versed on the history of missing vessels of the area, but this one did not match the description of any I was aware of,” said Richardson. “And I’m no slouch when it comes to knowing what’s still out there, waiting to be discovered.”

This small sailing vessel was in nearly 300’ of water.  A couple of weeks after the discovery, Richardson was joined by friend Steven Wimer II to take photos of the mystery shipwreck.  The distance from their boat to the lake bottom would be the equivalent of traveling endzone to endzone on your favorite high school’s football field, except straight down.  This dive would take both special training and special equipment. Wimer was able to capture a couple dozen images of what appeared to be one of the most intact shipwrecks they had ever seen. These images revealed much about the ship but posed more questions than answers. Join the hunt for answers during this engaging presentation as you explore beneath the waters of Northern Lake Michigan.

Richardson has spent the last decade searching the Manitou and Beaver Passages, locating nearly a dozen shipwrecks.  He is a former board member of the Michigan Shipwreck Research Association and the White Shoal Light Historical Preservation Society.  He resides in Lake Ann, Michigan with his wife, son and their greyhound, Claire.

Admission is $8, $7 for seniors. There is no admission fee for Museum members. Museum doors will at 6pm the evening of the lecture. The Museum is open regularly 10AM-5PM Thursday-Saturday during the month of March.

For more information, contact the Museum at 269-637-8078 or visit