For more than a decade, shipwreck hunter Jerry Eliason searched for the Scotiadoc, the freighter that sank into Lake Superior in 1953.
After officially launching in 1904 and making several trips to and from ports in the Duluth, Minnesota, area, the ship collided with the Burlington steamer in heavy fog on June 20, 1953. For more than 60 years, the 424-foot long freighter decayed in the lake.
But one night last month, Eliason and his crew discovered the Scotiadoc wreckage.
Eyes glued to the video beaming up images from a camera 870 feet below, it was like “magic,” Eliason said, when the crew caught glimpse of the ship’s bow and the name Scotiadoc came into focus.
It’s believed that the sunken ship is the deepest wreck ever found in the Great Lakes.
“Some people like to fish, some people like to hunt deer or quail, and I hang out with guys who get our fun from searching for shipwrecks,” Eliason told the Northland News.
Finding the wreck was no easy feat for Eliason, who hails from Cloquet, Minnesota. He and his crew searched through government records and used sonar to isolate the ship’s location. Finally, they lowered a camera into the water for final verification.
“The bottom there is tremendously rugged. It’s up and down. You’ll be in 500 feet of water, you’ll be in 400 feet of water, you’ll be in 950 feet of water, all within a short distance,” said Eliason, “so it’s almost like looking for a shipwreck among mountains.”
Surprisingly, the ship was in good condition even after spending decades underwater.
“It was really impressive how much white paint there is still remaining on that boat and how much of the orange, orange-ish color of the traditional boats is still there,” said Eliason.
Earlier this year, Eliason and his crew discovered another shipwreck in Lake Superior. The Henry B. Smith, the steel-hulled freighter that sank in 1913,taking 25 crewmembers with it, was found in May.
Scotiadoc marks the team’s 13th shipwreck discovered. They have no plans to raise the ship.