Video confirms ID of 1913 Lake Superior shipwreck

Deep water video confirms Lake Superior shipwreck is long-lost freighter Henry B. Smith


DULUTH, Minn. — Video taken more than 500 feet down in Lake Superior has confirmed that a shipwreck is the long-lost freighter Henry B. Smith.

Shipwreck hunters located the wreck May 24 about 30 miles north of Marquette, Mich.

They had little doubt then that they had found the Smith, which vanished in a storm with all hands in 1913, but the group wasn’t able to get video showing the ship’s name until a return trip to the site last week, the Duluth News Tribune reported Monday.

“We were blessed with gorgeous weather,” while out on the water last Sunday and Monday, said Jerry Eliason, of Cloquet. And the camera — despite getting caught on the wreck for a half-hour — captured video of lettering spelling out “Henry B. Smith” on the ship’s stern.

The 525-foot Henry B. Smith sank in the massive Great Lakes Storm of November, 1913, after it and its crew of 25 ventured out from Marquette during a lull. The storm kicked up again and the freighter sank, leaving scattered wreckage and just two bodies along the shores of Lake Superior.

In addition to footage of the ship’s name — the group also caught a glimpse of the name on the Smith’s bow — the return trip revealed more details of how the ship came to rest on the lake bottom.

It’s like a “V,” Eliason said. It’s broken in the middle, with the largely intact bow and stern sections rising up from the lake bed amid a spilled cargo of iron ore.

Getting the video was challenging because of a still-standing mast and guide wires on the bow, which snagged the camera for a while last week before the group was able to work it free.

The group will continue to review the video, and send it to other shipwreck experts, to see what more they can learn about the Henry B. Smith and how it sank.

Eliason said he and fellow explorer Ken Merryman, of Minneapolis, have been invited to give a presentation about the wreck at the 26th annual Gales of November conference in Duluth.

The event, a fund-raiser for the Lake Superior Marine Museum Association, is scheduled for Nov. 1-2.