4-Year-Old Girl and Her Father Discover Historic Shipwreck While Fishing

Source: Facebook/Tim Wollock / Unsplash

Fishing trips are stereotypical father and child activity, becoming so commonplace as to become a plot point in sitcoms like The Big Bang Theory. The reality of the activity is just as wholesome as you might think, and sometimes taking a trip with one’s father results in a story that’s bigger than a trout caught in a stream.

A Story for Decades

In August of this year, Henley Wollock and her father, Tim, were out fishing on his boat in Lake Michigan. This was quality bonding time between a father and his young daughter, but the trip would ultimately take an unexpected turn that would give both of them a story for the coming decades.

Source: Fox 11/WLUK

Henley, being the precocious 4-year-old that she was, had asked her father if he would be willing to take her to her favorite spot on Lake Michigan’s Green Island, where she wanted to go swimming and look for rocks. Tim wanted to use the time to go fishing, so the pair decided to meet in the middle: they would go to Henley’s spot, and go very slowly so that Tim could get some fishing in.

Lake Michigan Carries Many Secrets

Lake Michigan is one of the Great Lakes in America, the third largest one after Lake Superior and Lake Huron. It’s the only one of the Great Lakes that is fully located in America, and at its deepest, has a depth of nearly 1000 feet.

Source: Wikimedia/Yinan Chen

The enormous size and depth of Lake Michigan means that there have been many boats that have sunk in its depths and people who have gone missing on its waters over the years. This is a fact that Tim knew well, and when he and Henley entered a portion of the lake with shallow waters, he realized they were hovering over an area where many ships and boats had been lost over the years.

Fish Finder Revealing All

When Tim first saw the strange shape on his boat’s Fish Finder – a radar device used by fishermen – he didn’t think anything of it at first. Henley thought that the two of them had spotted an octopus in the waters, but on closer look, Tim knew that they were near something that was a little bit different.

Source: Facebook/Wisconsin Historical Society

When he turned around to get a better look on the radar, he realized that he was looking at the hull of a shipwreck. Since he knew that this was an area where many ships had gone missing, he first thought that it was the wreck of a ship called the Erie L. Hackley.

Facebook Coming Through With Answers – But Not All Of Them

Tim posted about his find on the Forgotten Wisconsin page on Facebook, seeking confirmation of his theory. Within an hour of the post, though, other Wisconsinites replied and informed him that the wreck of the Erie L. Hackley was located somewhere else.

Source: Facebook/Wisconsin Historical Society

Tim was baffled by his finding, as were others who saw the post. In order to investigate, a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) was sent to the depths of Lake Michigan to find out what Tim and his daughter had found on their innocent trip.

A Brand-New Shipwreck

The ROV went down, and what it found was a sight that hadn’t been seen by human eyes for more than a century. A three-masted sailing ship, measuring 122 feet long and 26 feet wide. Historians believe that the wreck is the remains of a boat called the George L. Newman, which was built in 1855 by Benjamin Flint.

Source: Facebook/Wisconsin Historical Society

The discovery stunned the Wisconsin Historical Society, who hadn’t previously had a record of any shipwrecks in the area. The location that the hull was found was near the listed shipwreck location of the George L. Newman, meaning that over the years, some of it has drifted away from its original sink location.

Hail, from the 19th Century!

The George L. Newman was built in 1855, and was a barkentine-style ship. This type of ship had three masts, with only the foremast being square-rigged. This allowed for a smaller crew to man the ship as well as the ability to sail close to the wind and carry a great deal of cargo.

Source: Wikimedia/John Hill

These styles of ships were popular near the end of the 19th century, and before its unfortunate sinking in 1871, the George L. Newman was able to carry a good amount of cargo onboard towards various locations during its service history.

The Great Peshtigo Fire

On the day that the George L. Newman sank, it was carrying lumber from Little Suamico, Wisconsin. The Great Peshtigo Fire was raging while the Newman was sailing, and the smoke was so thick that they couldn’t see where they were going.

Source: Wikimedia/G. J. Tisdale

The Newman ran aground the shoals, creating irreparable damage to the vessel, and the nearby lighthouse keeper ultimately helped to rescue the crew. They stayed in the lighthouse while the fires were subdued, and the George L. Newman was ultimately abandoned as a shipwreck before it sank.

More History To Be Discovered

The discovery of the Newman is a boon for historians, and even those not interested in maritime history can admire the result of an innocent fishing trip between a father and his young daughter. Tim and Henley now have a fantastic story to share with their friends and family, one with documented proof!

Source: Facebook/Wisconsin Historical Society

While every casual fishing trip won’t create such remarkable stories as this, it’s still fun to consider what secrets are still hiding in the depths of the Great Lakes. Early American history is so varied and fascinating, it’s impossible that we’ve discovered everything that there is to know. Each new discovery adds another piece to the puzzle, and as bystanders, all we can do is watch, and learn.

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James Cross

Written by James Cross

James Cross, an enigmatic writer from the historic city of Boston. James' writing delves into mysteries, true crime, and the unexplained, crafting compelling narratives that keep readers and viewers on the edge of their seats. His viral articles, blog posts, and documentary-style videos explore real-life enigmas and unsolved cases, inviting audiences to join the quest for answers. James' ability to turn real mysteries into shareable content has made him a sensation in the world of storytelling.

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