Oldest commercial shipwreck in Great Lakes history discovered

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Oldest commercial shipwreck in Great Lakes history discovered

August 03, 2013 - 16:29

The sunken remains of a vessel that’s believed to be the oldest confirmed commercial schooner shipwreck in the Great Lakes has been found in Lake Ontario near Oswego.

The Atlas may be the oldest confirmed commercial schooner discovered in the Great Lakes.

The Atlas, a two masted schooner, was built in Dexter, NY in 1838 and owned by Ortha Little & Son for the specific purpose of transporting building stone from the quarries in the Chaumont, NY area.

In early May 1839, the schooner Atlas was transporting a cargo of Black River limestone from Chaumont to the port of Oswego. Within a few miles of its final destination the Atlas encountered gale force winds from the northwest which more than likely caused a shift in the heavy cargo taking the schooner swiftly to the bottom of Lake Ontario. The schooner sank so quickly there was no time for anyone to escape and all on board were carried to the deep depths of the lake.

Video images of the shipwreck indicate the schooner hit the lake’s bottom hard, toppling the masts and causing the deck to collapse on itself, he said. The ship’s wheel, heavily encrusted with mussels, remains intact. The ship’s name doesn’t appear on the hull, but that’s not unusual for a wreck as old as the Atlas, Kennard told The Detroit News.

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