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Published: Tuesday, 5/29/2012

Buoy placed over Erie ship wreck


CLEVELAND -- A ship that went down in a storm on Lake Erie in 1864 near Cleveland now has a buoy marking the wreck that cost the lives of the ship's captain and six crew members.

Divers placed the blue-and-white buoy over the Sultan a few miles from the Cleveland shoreline on Saturday.

The ship, which lies in 45 feet of water, sank while sailing from Cleveland.

The buoy will make it easier for recreational divers to explore the ship and will protect a significant historical artifact for future generations, the (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reported.

Divers found an intact wooden railing on the Sultan, which was carrying grindstones and barrel staves.

The most dramatic sight was "all the grindstones still on the deck," said Chris Kraska of the private nonprofit Maritime Survey Team. "One appeared to be 6 feet across."

The vessel was discovered in the 1980s but went unreported. It was found again last year by the Cleveland Underwater Explorers, said David VanZandt, that group's chief archaeologist.

Mr. Van Zandt's group says the 127-foot, double-masted vessel was launched in 1848 in Chicago. It hauled passengers and cargo on the Great Lakes and along the East Coast for 16 years.

Members of the two groups, which receive some support from the Great Lakes Historical Society, made the dive together Saturday.

They say the Sultan was identified through extensive research that included gathering news accounts of the day.

Only one sailor survived the wreck, they said.

Mr. VanZandt estimates there are 300 to 400 identified wrecks in Lake Erie and some that cannot be identified.

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