WHITEFISH POINT, MICH.- The Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society (GLSHS) is proud to announce the discovery of the steel bulk freighter Huronton 100-years after sinking more than 800 feet to the bottom of Lake Superior.
October 11th, 1923, the 238-foot-long Huronton was empty and headed upbound on Lake Superior in heavy fog and smoke from forest fires. At the same time, the 416-foot-long bulk freighter Cetus was fully loaded and headed downbound. Both vessels were travelling too fast for the conditions and collided. The bow of the Cetus ripped a huge hole in the port side of the Huronton …momentarily locking the two ships together.
Huronton and Cetus collision – Artwork by Bob McGreevy
Thankfully the Captain of the Cetus had his wits about him and kept his engines moving forward effectively “plugging” the hole in the side of the Huronton. Doing this bought the crew of the Huronton time to get on the Cetus essentially saving the lives of the crew. However, the crew’s mascot, a bulldog, was left onboard. The first mate, Dick Simpell, sprang into action and jumped back onto the Huronton and ran to the flooding stern section, untied the dog, and carried it onto the Cetus before the Huronton plunged into the depths.
Huronton Dog being rescued – Artwork by Bob McGreevy
“Finding any shipwreck is exciting. But to think that we’re the first human eyes to look at this vessel 100 years after it sank, not many people have the opportunity to do that.” Says GLSHS Executive Director Bruce Lynn, “I think about some of the more interesting aspects of what we do as an organization, but the searching for, discovery and documentation of shipwrecks… especially if it’s a vessel that sank a hundred years ago, is pretty exciting because, it’s truly a part of our past.”
The Huronton is extremely deep at 800 feet below the surface. As the crew of the R/V David Boyd was towing the society’s sonar towfish, “The depth dropped on us from 300 feet to 800 feet. And for us to keep a good sonar image of the bottom, we would have to let out a lot more cable or slow down” said Director of Marine Operations, Darryl Ertel “it was just a small 800 foot hole and there was a little sliver in there that was a straight line, but it looked like the size of a thread. And because it was a straight line, I marked it as a possible target, 4 hours later, we come back on our way home to check it. And sure enough, it was a shipwreck.”
For more on the shipwreck “Huronton” contact us for interviews, photos, and video and the story of how it served our country in World War 1: