(There is a) possible gold or silver bullion ship in Lake Michigan. Any further information on it?
Jon MacVean, Via e-mail
A mystery ship that sank in Lake Michigan supposedly carrying over $30,000,000 in gold is one of the most persistent rumors of sunken treasure.
The story goes that an unidentified vessel sank off Escanaba at Poverty Island carrying a load of $4,500,000 in gold bullion. If Lake Michigan does hold this ship, it has the richest treasure in the Great Lakes.
Legend states that this nameless vessel was sailing from or to Escanaba, its gold being transported in five chests sent by a foreign power to help finance the outcome of the Civil War, in whose favor, however, nobody knows.
One theory is that the gold came from England by way of Canada and was to be shipped across Lake Michigan, taken by land to the Mississippi River, and then sent south to aid the Confederate cause.
The opposition learned of the cargo and attacked the ship. Hoping to recover the gold later, its guards chained the chests together and dumped them overboard. No one had yet been able to identify the gold-laden ship, though it has been referred to on several of the Great Lake shipwreck lists. The missing cargo could be worth as much as $35 to $40 million today.
The first shipwreck recorded in Lake Michigan’s wild waters is that of Nicolet’s Griffin near the northern end. In the centuries that followed, more than 400 ships were known to have taken a final voyage, straight down. Here are a few of the most famous:
In 1847, the Phoenix sank off Sheboygan, Wisconsin, with the loss of 250 lives. Most were Dutch immigrants whose trunks contained their worldly accumulation in the form of gold.
At least one family is known to have had more than $100,000 worth.
In 1854, the Westmoreland took to the bottom $100,000 in gold, $95,000 worth of whiskey and other cargo.
In 1860, the Lady Elgin sank off Winnetak, Illinois, with 297 lives lost, many of which were wealthy residents of Chicago’s North Shore out on a day’s outing.
In 1868, the Seabird went down off Lake Forest, Illinois, with about 100 passengers, 66 barrels of fine whiskey, and an unknown quantity of gold and silver.
In 1905, the Argo sank off Holland, Michigan, with more than $100,000 of miscellaneous cargo, and intriguing term for divers and salvagers.
In 1929, the car-ferry Milwaukee, containing 27 railroad boxcars of general freight, sank.
In 1956, the Prins Willem V sank off Milwaukee with a multi-million dollar cargo.
Despite its proximity to the shore, this vessel has so far resisted all efforts to retrieve her cargo.
The disappearance of many of these vessels is shrouded in mystery, but none more so that the Chicora.
On the stormy winter night of January 21, 1895, the large passenger steamer Chicora left St. Joseph, Michigan, for the short trip across the southern end of Lake Michigan to Chicago, Illinois, but she sailed out into Lake Michigan and oblivion.
The Chicora was last reported off Benton Harbor, Michigan, but after that was seen no more.
There was no distress signal, there were no known survivors, there was no sign that the Chicora ever existed.
On board when she vanished were 120 barrels of whiskey and over $50,000 in gold, silver and currency.
In the late 1960’s a fisherman’s net snared bits of wreckage in the southwestern part of the lake, which was thought to be from the Chicora.
Other sources believe she never got more than 10 miles southwest of St. Joseph, where she lies in 10 fathoms of water.
The U.S. Coast Guard has recorded no efforts to recover the Chicora.
The U.S. Weather Bureau, which includes the Chicora on its official list of shipwrecks in the Great Lakes, has no knowledge of any part of the vessel ever being located or salvaged.
Courtesy of http://www.gwiz.co/treasures/michigan.php
There are maps available of the shipwrecks in Lake Michigan available for $10 plus S&H at http://www.ship-wreck.com/shipwreck/charts/
The slug that you see in the photo (page 44, July 2010 issue of Lost Treasure) is a modern day shot gun slug; the vertical grooves that you see are at an angle and are there to spin the slug in a smooth bore shotgun.
I’ve used them for years and they are not very accurate.
The flat ring you see at the bottom of the slug is from the scraping from the smooth bore on the skirt of the slug. The dia. of a 12 Ga. slug is .69 Cal.
Hope I didn’t burst any bubbles.
It also looks like the slug was tumbling when it hit something, as the skirt seems to be out of square indicating that is where it hit. Anyway, that’s what I think it is.
Thank you for your input for identification of this item. For those that didn’t see the article, here is the original info in part that was printed in the July 2010 issue on page 44:
I have hunted…found, with metal detector, many Civil War era bullets, musket balls, pistol balls, stirrups, and even a small cannonball. I am, however, at a loss to identify the bullet I found recently along this old road.
I have searched nearly every Civil War era site with photos of bullets, etc., and I can find nothing like this. It does appear to be a bullet. Maybe you can help me identify it or perhaps point me to a book that might help.
What is unusual are the vertical lines on it. There are 5 thin lines in a circle near the top and then the vertical lines up and down. There is a nose mark on the top and I can make out a seven, but that’s all. Are the vertical lines just due to something made by the barrel of the gun?
Kathy (and Charles) Stark
In a follow-up regarding the mystery item found by Martin Pont and submitted for the June 2012 issue of Lost Treasure, page 62, Jerry Dasher of Madera, California, sent us an e-mail saying he thinks it could be a surveyor’s chaining pin.
And John Bare wrote us via e-mail as a follow-up to say, “I wanted to add a little to the question by Debra Kott about Philadelphia detecting in the February ‘13 Lost Treasure in the Question and Answers section.
“She mentioned the nickel her son found that appeared dyed red. My buddy, Frank, mentioned it might be painted red; without seeing it, it is hard to say, but in my area (central Iowa) nickels turn reddish brown fairly quickly in the soil.
“Either way I agree with Frank’s face value assessment.
“I wish the New TH’er in Philly good luck in the future.”
Thank you Jerry and John…we hope this helps the readers that sent their items for identification and know they will appreciate your input.