Shipwreck hunter Ross Richardson was travelling to South Manitou Island in northern Lake Michigan when his sonar picked up “something interesting” on the lakebed. Richardson made a record of the GPS coordinates and returned about a week later for a closer inspection. “The sonar showed something rising 90 feet off the bottom, which is very unusual", he said on his website.
The mysterious object was beyond Richardson’s diving range so he called in his friend Steve Wimer, a diver and underwater photographer, to examine the wreck site, and with their friend, Brent Tompkins, they returned to the site and Wimer swam down to photograph what the website describes as a “mysterious ghost ship".
Later in the video, Wimer described what he found on the lakebed as “the most intact shipwreck I have ever encountered".
Footage of the wreck posted on YouTube shows the ship in its final resting place, with its masts clearly still intact. The ship’s deck, hull and stern cabin can also be seen, as well as its lifeboat. The intact iron rope was a vital clue as to the ship’s identity, as was the schooner’s “sleek clipper bow". According to Richardson’s website, iron rope wasn’t widely used until the 1870s and the bow was typical of schooners built in Manitowoc and, later, Milwaukee.
The researcher said he had searched through about 6,000 schooner records in the Patrick Labadie Great Lakes Maritime Collection, and after cross-referencing with Great Lakes databases and newspaper archives, he concluded that the ship is likely the W.C. Kimball. The schooner was carrying a cargo of salt and wood shingles when she disappeared in May 1891.