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Thu Sep 17, 2020, 12:24 PM

Lost car ferry discovered 110 years after sinking in Lake Michigan

Public Interest
Lost car ferry discovered 110 years after sinking in Lake Michigan
Updated Sep 16, 2020; Posted Sep 15, 2020

By Garret Ellison | gellison@mlive.com

LUDINGTON, MI — The wireless operator tapped the same frantic message for hours. “Carferry 18 sinking — help.” By the time help arrived, it was nearly too late. ... One hundred and ten years ago this month, the Pere Marquette 18 took 29 souls with her as the iron vessel plunged beneath the dark surface of Lake Michigan.

The big railroad car ferry was surrounded by ships as she sank. However, despite many witnesses to her demise, the wreck evaded discovery until this summer, when a celebrated team of Great Lakes shipwreck hunters from Minnesota finally found her on the bottom of Lake Michigan.

“We consider it arguably the most desirable wreck, with the most gravitas, in Lake Michigan — unless someone believes The Griffin is in Lake Michigan,” said Jerry Eliason, who, along with fellow wreck hunter Ken Merryman, found the ship.

The final resting place of the Pere Marquette 18 is under about 500 feet of water roughly 25 miles off Sheboygan, Wisconsin. She was long sought-after by Great Lakes wreck hunters, driven in part by the mystery surrounding her final voyage.


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