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Researchers ID mystery wreck in Lake Erie

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The National Museum of the Great Lakes in Toledo, in collaboration with its partners the Cleveland Underwater Explorers, has identified a mystery wreck in Lake Erie as the schooner Plymouth that sank in 1852 after a collision with a sidewheel steamer.

In 1996, an unidentified shipwreck of a two-masted schooner was located in Lake Erie, 20 miles off Cleveland. In 2011, the wreck’s existence and location were publicized, and in 2013 and this year, the Cleveland Underwater Explorers performed archaeological surveys to determine the identity of the wreck.

The work was funded by the National Museum of the Great Lakes, according to Christopher Gillcrist, executive director of the museum.

The ship featured a tiller instead of a wheel to steer it and showed signs of collision damage on its starboard side. Extensive archival research data helped to put a name to the mystery wreckage as the Plymouth, built in Huron, Ohio, in 1847.

After the collision with the steamer, the Plymouth sank quickly, but the 10-member crew escaped and was rescued. The schooner was sailing from Huron to Buffalo with cargo that included wheat and flour.

On Sept. 8, the National Museum of the Great Lakes announced the discovery of a rare dagger-board schooner, Three Brothers, in deep water in Lake Ontario off Oswego, N.Y., by a volunteer team working with the museum.

That schooner — which was heading from Pultneyville, N.Y., to Oswego with a cargo of apples, cider, and wheat when it sank in a gale in 1833 — is the first fully working dagger-board schooner ever found and is believed to be the oldest confirmed commercial schooner to have been discovered in the Great Lakes, according to the National Museum of the Great Lakes.

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