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HISTORICAL TREASURE: Shipwreck hunter finds 152-year-old Civil War-era ship in Lake Huron

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 11th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Fearless "wreck hunter," 72-year-old David Trotter has found a sunken treasure after 20 years of diving. The Keystone State, which sank in Lake Huron in 1861 during a violent storm has been finally found and identified.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) -  Trotter has discovered more than 100 shipwrecks in his career. He says that the Civil War-era ship was headed from Detroit to Milwaukee in 1861 during especially cold weather. When the Keystone sank, it took the lives of 33 crew members. The nature of its true cargo is unknown.

Trotter at one time said he feared that he would never find the vessel. His announcement this week announced that the ship was found lying at the bottom of Lake Huron, near Alpena.

"When you virtually have thought that you would never find something you were looking for, and finally it comes up and you find it, you say, 'Wow,'" he told My Fox Detroit.

Mystery still surrounds the exact circumstances when the ornate and comfortable palace steamer sank. The ship's final journey was seen as "strange" as it left Detroit for Milwaukee in icy November weather to haul farm equipment. Other historians maintain that the ship was actually carrying a secret Civil War shipment.

Of the 100 wrecks Trotter and his team have brought to life, the 300-foot-long Keystone State ranks as one of the best.

"You realize sometimes that it's only just sheer 99 percent perspiration and one percent inspiration that will make success," he said.

Located in nearly 175 feet of water and 25 miles northeast of Harrisville, his crew has made 30 dives on the site since last July. "The stern is kind of broken up and crumbled. The boilers are in good condition, the engine is in good condition," Warren diver Marty Lutz told reporters. 

"The wheels are both standing. It was pretty amazing to see those sitting upright on the bottom like that," he added.

Retaining its historical mystery is the fact that the divers haven't found any cargo or the gold that was rumored to be on board.

"We still haven't unlocked the key to what her intent was at the time she left Detroit," Trotter says. Trotter intends to return to the wreckage, and is putting together a program on the history and discovery of the boat.

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