Ars Technica celebrates an underwater discovery: the surprisingly well-preserved wreck of the schooner barge Ironton, which went down in 1898 after colliding with the Great Lakes freighter Ohio in a stretch of Lake Huron known as “Shipwreck Alley.” The sunken remains have just been identified in the dark waters of NOAA’s Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary:
Ohio‘s wreck was found in 2017 by an expedition organized by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Now the same team has announced its discovery of the wreck of the 191-foot Ironton nearly 130 years after its sinking, so well-preserved in the frigid waters of the Great Lakes that its three masts are still standing, and its rigging is still attached. Its discovery could help resolve unanswered questions about the ship’s final hours.
Once the Ohio had been found, the team conducted further research into the weather and wind conditions on the fateful night of the double sinking to narrow down the search area for Ironton. They partnered with famed explorer Robert Ballard and the Ocean Exploration Trust to map that area in 2019. (Ballard famously discovered the wreck of the Titanic, as well as the wrecks of the battleship Bismarck and the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier, among other finds.) Finally, in the final days of the expedition, they captured a sonar image from the lakebed clearly showing a shipwreck.
There wasn’t enough detail in that sonar image to definitively identify the wreck as Ironton, so the team decided to capture video of the wreck with a remotely operated vehicle (ROV). That footage confirmed that they had found the Ironton. The site will be marked with a deep-water mooring buoy so divers can safely visit the wreck.