French Asserting Rights to 326-Year-Old Vessel Found in Lake Superior
Three Centuries Old Mystery Revived; French Seek Rights to Wreck of Griffon
August 28, 2005
Leave a Comment
By: Dave Rogers
The Griffon was the first sailing ship on the Upper Great Lakes, built in 1679. It was the second to be shipwrecked on the Great Lakes.
Of the about 6,000 ships wrecked in the Great Lakes, this one may be the most important, and the most historically significant.
Booth Newspapers has broken a blockbuster story about the possible discovery of ill-fated French ship, Le Griffon, sunk some 326 years ago in Lake Superior.
According to a story in the Grand Rapids Press a week ago, an organization called the Great Lakes Exploration Group claims to have found the wreck of the Griffon between Escanaba and the St. Martin Islands, off the Door Peninsula of Wisconsin.
Reporter Ed White picked up the story when the U.S. State Department filed a brief in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids a week ago.
State Department official Robert Blumberg, of the Office of Oceans Affairs, said in the filing that France is proposing to send a team of experts to determine if the find is in fact the Griffon.
If it can be proven that the ship was sailing under regal decree, France may have rights to the wreck, according to reports.
And, implications from the state department official are that France may seek to send the bill for the trip here by the experts to the U.S. government.
The fur is already flying from comments by folks who haveheard the jist of the news of this revolting development.
The French explorer Rene-Robert Cavalier Sieur de LaSalle built the ship, first sailing vessel on the Great Lakes, near the junction of the Cayuga Creek and the Niagara River at the eastern end of Lake Erie in what is now New York State.
Le Griffon was considered to have been the first ship on the Upper Great Lakes. It was a 45-ton barque with five guns. On its maiden voyage it traversed lakes Erie, Huron and Michigan. On thereturn trip it vanished with all six crew members and a valuable load of furs.
After weathering a violent storm on Lake Huron, possibly in Saginaw Bay, LaSalle and some compatriots left the ship at a trading post on Green Bay. The ship continued on with a load of furs but was never seen again.
The Griffon was the second ship sunk on the Great Lakes, the first being another vessel built by LaSalle, the Frontenac, lost in Lake Ontario in 1679.
Another ship of LaSalle's, LaBelle, was lost in Matagorda Bay, off Texas. After its discovery in the 1990s, Texas and France made a salvage agreement and nearly a million artifacts, from bones to muskets, were recovered from the sunken wreck.###
Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
(Contact Dave Via Email at firstname.lastname@example.org)
More from Dave Rogers
Send This Story to a Friend!
Letter to the editor
Link to this Story
Printer-Friendly Story View
--- Advertisments ---