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Oldest wreck in the Great Lakes finally found?

Researchers find enough evidence at supposed site of Griffon shipwreck to warrant a partial excavation
Woodcut of The Griffon, the first European sailing ship on the Great Lakes, which disappeared in 1679
Detroit Free Press, Wikipedia  |  Supposed site of Griffon shipwreck to be partially excavated    |   12-22-2011
Le Griffon was the first full-sized sailing ship on the upper Great Lakes of North America and is reported to be the "Holy Grail" of Great Lakes shipwreck hunters.
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Le Griffon led the way to modern commercial shipping in that part of the world. Before 1673, the most common vessel on the lakes was the canoe.

It was built by René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle in his quest to find the Northwest Passage to China and Japan. La Salle and Father Louis Hennepin set out on the Le Griffon's maiden voyage on August 7, 1679 with a crew of 32, sailing across Lake Erie, Lake Huron and Lake Michigan through uncharted waters that only canoes had previously explored. La Salle disembarked and on September 18 sent the ship back toward Niagara. On its return trip from Green Bay, Wisconsin, it vanished with all six crew members and a load of furs.

Father Hennepin wrote that Le Griffon was lost in a violent storm. Some charged fur traders, and even Jesuits with her destruction. Some said that the Ottawas or Pottawatomies boarded her, murdered her crew, and then burned her. La Salle was convinced that the pilot and crew treacherously sank her and made off with the goods.

There is no conclusive evidence about any of the theories about Le Griffon's loss

A number of sunken old sailing ships have been suggested to be Le Griffon but, except for the ones proven to be other ships, there has been no positive identification. One candidate is a wreck at the western end of Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron, with another wreck near Escanaba, Michigan, also proposed.

Le Griffon may have been found by the Great Lakes Exploration Group but the potential remains were the subject of lawsuits involving the discoverers, the state of Michigan, the U.S. federal government and the government of France - because the Griffon was a French ship. The next step would be for these three groups to apply for permits to excavate some of the site.

No smoking gun
"We weren't able to find a smoking gun proving it's the Griffon," said Ken Vrana, director of the Center for Maritime and Underwater Resource Management in Laingsburg, which is leading the research. But the scans and bottom profiling showed "a mass" consistent with that of a sunken vessel, Vrana said.

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