Shipwreck J.S. Seaverns

Shipwreck+J.S.+Seaverns

Jackie Jahfetson

With a body of freshwater so deep and mysterious, there’s more than the cold to be found at the bottom of Lake Superior. There is no doubt that the icy waters preserve some of the most hidden discoveries, but those discoveries help connect the missing dots. Most people think of the Edmund Fitzgerald, but local maritime historian Dan Fountain has something he helped discover back in the summer of 2016, and will tell a story that’s been concealed for over 130 years.

The Marquette Regional History Center (MRHC) will host “A Most Outlandish Place: The Wreck of the J.S. Seaverns” from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Nov. 7. Fountain, who’s been a scuba diver since 1979, said this event is a way for people to get an appreciation for history and spark their interest in
the MRHC.

“It’ll be entertaining and a fun presentation,” Fountain said. “It’s not just a lecture,
it’s fun too.”

The J.S. Seaverns, a small wooden steamer, carried supplies and provisions for the workers of the Canadian Pacific Railroad along the North Shore. While leaving the dock, the vessel struck a rock which then filled and sank with no lives lost. The boat was undiscovered for more than a century, but Fountain will tell the history of the sinking, the search for the Seaverns using a PowerPoint presentation and new underwater video, he said.
When Fountain was eight, he discovered his first shipwreck.

Swimming near a family camp at Shot Point, he held his breath and swam down 6 feet to uncover the scattered wreckage of the schooner George Sherman. Fountain, author of “Michigan Gold and Silver: Mining in the Upper Peninsula” and co-author of “Dangerous Coast: Shipwrecks of the Pictured Rocks,” has over three decades in searching for lost ships. With a love of history for the Great Lakes shipping industry, Fountain said it’s a challenge finding shipwrecks and in that way it can feel like “detective work.” But once you find little clues, you eventually start to connect the dots to other parts of history, such as making connections with shipwrecks and the railroad industry, he said.

The event is a fundraiser for the MRHC and a donation of $5 is suggested. For more information on the MRHC, visit their website at marquettehistory.org or call (906)226-3571.