Monday, November 03, 2008
The wreck of a 19th-century ship, built in Oswego, has been found on the bottom of Lake Erie. The Riverside, a 133-foot schooner, built in Oswego in 1870, was found by divers searching the lake about 25 miles north of Cleveland, said Chris Gillcrist, executive director of the Inland Seas Maritime Museum in Vermilion, Ohio. The discovery by the Cleveland Underwater Explorers was announced Thursday. The ship was lost during a storm Oct. 13, 1893, killing its crew of seven. "It left Kelleys Island with a load of stone and was heading for Tonawanda (N.Y.) when it encountered the remnants of an unnamed hurricane. Fifteen to 20 ships sank that day. It was really a bad storm," Gillcrist said. Located in western Lake Erie off Sandusky, Kelleys Island was the site of a limestone quarry. The Riverside was carrying 670 tons of stone when it sank."Newspaper accounts at the time said the masts were sticking out of the water and clothing was tied to the masts, indicating that the crew managed to tie themselves to the masts, but they were washed away," Gillcrist said, adding that reports of shipwrecks at that time tended to be sensational. Also lost in the sinking were another ship's captain and his new wife who were on their honeymoon, Gillcrist said. The ship, which primarily sailed on Lake Erie, was first discovered by divers in the 1980s, Gillcrist said. "But they didn't know what it was," Gillcrist said. When the Riverside was rediscovered, divers found the ship sitting upright with its rigging hardware and other items still in place. Oswego was a major port and Great Lakes shipbuilding center in the 19th century. When it was built, the Riverside had two masts. A third mast was added in 1884. "It's in remarkably good condition," Gillcrist said.