Falling Lake Michigan water levels reveal old shipwreck

Muskegon County

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — On the shores of Whitehall, the bones of an old shipwreck have been once again exposed for visitors to see, all thanks to the recently falling water levels.

The ship originally surfaced from the shore back in 2018 when water levels were able to eat away at layers and layers of sand. The ship is believed to be the Contest, which sank in the 1880s.

The shipwreck in Whitehall (Courtesy: Ann McManus) 

Lake Michigan has a living shoreline, which means it is constantly changing through the seasons and years due to water level changes and erosion. Water has been at record high and near record high levels on Lake Michigan for months now, submerging the shipwreck under the waves and allowing for even more erosion to expose the spine of the ship.

According the the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Great Lakes Basin has experienced four consecutive months of below average precipitation. This, along with a much colder than average February, has led to significant water level drops. Lake Michigan is a full 10 inches lower now than it was this time last year.

Typically there is a water level rise for the Great Lakes during the spring season.

To view the wreck yourself, head to the beach where White Lake opens up into the Big Lake and look on the south side of the pier to see the rugged remains of the ship. It’s best to see it before the lake claims it back again as it has done so many years in the past.

*Correction: The original version of this article stated the ship was believed to be the L.C. Woodruff; experts later told News 8 it was more likely the Contest.

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