shipwreck schooner trinidad wisconsin
© State Historical Society of WisconsinThis July 2023 photo provided by State Historical Society of Wisconsin shows the schooner Trinidad.
Shipwreck hunters have discovered the well-preserved remains of a schooner that sank in Lake Michigan in 1881, with the crew's possessions still intact.

Brendon Baillod and Robert Jaeck, maritime historians from Wisconsin, found the 156-year-old Trinidad ship back in July at a depth of 270 feet off Algoma, Wisconsin, the Associated Press (AP) reported Friday. The historians used a combination of side-scan sonar and historical accounts from those who survived the shipwreck to narrow down its location.

"The wreck is among the best-preserved shipwrecks in Wisconsin waters with her deck-house still intact, containing the crew's possessions and her anchors and deck gear still present," a statement released after the discovery reads, according to AP.

The schooner measures 140 feet long and was built by William Keefe at Grand Island, New York, in 1867. The Trinidad was mainly a trade ship, being used to transport grain between Milwaukee, Chicago, and Oswego, New York. On May 13, 1881, the schooner developed a catastrophic leak while carrying a load of coal, and it sank about 10 miles off the coast of Algoma.

Captain John Higgins and the eight crew members onboard survived the sinking and rowed for eight hours to Algoma, Wisconsin. The ship, however, took "all the crew's possessions and the captain's pet Newfoundland dog with her," according to the press release.

Baillod and Jaeck brought the news of their finding to an underwater archaeologist with the Wisconsin Historical Society, who arranged for the vessel to be verified and for the artifacts to be documented.

The Great Lakes Shipwreck Research shared a video on YouTube of Baillod and Jaeck talking about their discovery and explaining the history of the schooner.


"This is probably the most significant wreck we've ever found," Baillod said.

The two later explained in the video that the wreck is not well known to people outside the local area, but that marine historians have been continuously searching for the wreck. They were not the first people to look for the sunken ship, they said, but they were the first to look for it in the area in which it was found.

A three-dimensional model of the ship has been created for people to explore the site virtually.