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Ship missing for 112 years discovered in Lake Superior

The wooden steamship called Adella Shores was found in water more than 650 feet deep.
Sun setting on Lake Superior.
Posted at 2:24 PM, May 01, 2024

The Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society has discovered a wooden steamship called Adella Shores that went missing in 1909.

According to the society, the "Adella Shores" went missing on May 1, 1909, in the area of Whitefish Point. They use "went missing" to describe a vessel that left the dock and was never seen again.

They found Adella Shores more than 40 miles northwest of Whitefish Point in over 650 feet of water.

The 195-foot ship was built in 1894 in Gibraltar, Michigan, and was a 735-ton wood steamer owned by the Shores Lumber Company. According to the society, it was named after the owner's daughter, Adella, and his other daughter, Bessie, christened the ship with a bottle of water instead of champagne, which many sailors would have seen as a bad omen.

The society said the Adella Shores had its share of trouble, and sank twice in shallow waters but was refloated and put back into service.

Underwater image of the "Milkwaukee" shipwreck.

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On April 29, 1909, the ship was bound for Duluth with a load of salt. It was following the larger steel steamship, the Daniel J. Morrell, through thick ice floe. As both rounded Whitefish Point, they were met with a fierce gale. The Shores went 2 miles out of sight and it was never seen again.

There were 14 crew members on board, and their bodies were never recovered.

According to the society, in the summer of 2021, GLSHS Director of Marine Operations Darryl Ertel and his brother Dan were running grids with the Marine Sonic Technology and found the target.

“I pretty much knew that had to be the Adella Shores when I measured the length of it, because there were no other ships out there missing in that size range,” said Ertel. “As soon as I put the ROV down on it for the first time, I could see the design of the ship and I could match it right up to the Adella Shores."

File photo shows the shore of Lake Michigan.


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“People often ask us why we wait so long to release shipwrecks that we find,” recalls GLSHS Content/Communications Director Corey Adkins. “Every one of these stories is important and deserves to be told with the utmost honor and respect. GLSHS has had some banner years of discovery … and a lot of research goes into each press release, ensuring that we tell the story accurately."

This story was originally published by Scripps News Detroit.