152-Year-Old Shipwreck Discovered by a Father and Daughter While Fishing

(NewsReady.com) – Finding lost treasure is something most kids dream of doing. Finding an entire ship is almost unimaginable. That’s exactly what a 5-year-old and her father found in Wisconsin.

In August, 5-year-old Henley Wollak and her father, Tim Wollak, were fishing in Green Bay, near Green Island, when their fish finder sonar indicated something was below the surface. The little girl thought the images were some kind of rare, freshwater octopus. However, the Wollaks have now learned that they actually found a shipwreck that’s more than 150 years old.

Wisconsin Historical Society Maritime Archaeologist Tamara Thomsen told NPR that the ship’s features and location match the ship called the George L. Newman.

In October 1871, the Newman was delivering cargo lumber to Green Bay from Little Suamico. The 122-foot, 250-ton ship was navigating the water when it made an error because of heavy smoke in the area. The smoke came from the Peshtigo Fire, which became known as the deadliest fire in US history, killing an estimated 1,200 people.

The ship ran aground on Green Island. The crew was unable to move it back into the water, so they unloaded it and left it behind. Thomsen explained that it ended up being destroyed over the years and was eventually “swallowed by the shoal [and] covered up with sand” until the Wollaks exposed it.

Mr. Wollak said his daughter was a little disappointed because she was hoping there would be treasure on the ship.

Lake Michigan, where the island is located, is the final resting place of approximately 1,500 shipwrecks. The lake is almost 1,000 feet deep in its deepest spot, which makes it difficult to determine exactly how many ships are down there. Approximately 300 ships were found behind the surf line. With all of those undiscovered wrecks out there, Henley might get lucky and find another one someday. And who knows? Maybe that one will contain treasure.

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