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New shipwreck discovery

Discussion in 'Great Lakes Wrecking Crew' started by Jared0425, Sep 21, 2017.

  1. Jared0425

    Jared0425 Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Detroit, Michigan
    I am proud to announce that after years of hunting, we have located the wreck of the Clifton 25 miles NE of Pt Aux Barques in 190ft of water lying on her side.

    The Clifton was one of the 42 "Whaleback" ships that were launched in Superior Wisconsin as the Samuel Mather in 1892. She carried bulk cargoes until the early 1920s when her decks were redesigned for automobile transportation in 1922. The company that bought her did not last more than a year before she was sold to Progress Steamship in early 1924 and renamed Clifton. Her cement deck and automobile elevator was ripped up at shipyard in Wisconsin. There were 3 ships being converted to a Self Unloader: The Bay State, Andaste, and the Clifton. From the very beginning the Clifton had issues with stability almost capsizing on her first run. For the first 2 months she ran between Chicago and a port in Wisconsin that I cannot recollect. Then in September of 24 she got her first real trip.

    Departing Sturgeon Bay bound for Cleveland with a cargo of aggregate (gravel), she made her way into the Straits where the conditions worsened. As she entered Lake Huron a gale was in full force. The Clifton was last sighted off Forty Mile Point by the wrecking tug Favorite making a struggle to stay afloat. After that she was never seen again. For weeks searchers combed the beaches and the lake and only found debris with some victims. A week after her sinking a pilothouse washed ashore in Canada with a clock on the inside stopped at 4:00. It would be 92 years before she was seen again in June of 2016.

    Working on 2 other wrecks we did not know that the target we located was in fact the Clifton. We had one weekend in September that was good enough to dive so we decided to investigate the target. The date was September 24th of last year. Right on the anniversary of the sinking. Imagine our surprise when we dropped down on her thinking it was a busted up steamer and turned out to be an intact whaleback 100 miles from her last seen point! The Clifton was the last remaining whaleback steamer left.

    From what we can tell, the Clifton was heading full steam ahead going south when she suddenly lurched over to her port side. The bow smashed into the bottom destroying it and knocking the turret off. Her stern floated for maybe a minute before her heavy gravel cargo took her under. The Self Unloader is out of its cradle, but the lines that are bolted to the deck are intact and in place which means the boom itself was not swinging wildly. A series of major storms popped up over the next few weeks after her sinking destroying what was left of the wooden superstructure. All that remains now are her turrets in the back. Her engine room is oak paneled and still has all the paperwork in picture frames in the wall that are still legible. As of now we have not seen any evidence of Human remains. Of the 24 crew that went out, less than a dozen were recovered indicating a rapid sinking with no warning. WZZM over on the west side of Michigan will be running our discovery on their news channel.

    MYSTERY SOLVED | ‘S.S. Clifton' discovered in Lake Huron
    northernone and txgoose like this.
  2. Marie13

    Marie13 Great Lakes Mermaid ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Great Lakes
    Wow! Thanks for sharing. The footage is incredible!
  3. RyanT

    RyanT ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Maryland
    Really awesome. Thank you!
  4. fish149

    fish149 Contributor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: South West Ohio
    Really cool discovery! The story was awesome!!! Congratulations!!!
  5. BoneCrusher

    BoneCrusher NAUI Instructor

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Lapeer, Michigan
  6. maj2

    maj2 Contributor

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Windsor, Ontario Canada

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