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Is this Le Griffon?

Teaming with the Center for Maritime & Underwater Resource Management (CMURM)

In the summer of 2001, Steve Libert located an anomaly on the lake floor. At first he believed the protruding object to be a shipís mast, but believes now it is more likely to be the bowsprit. The preliminary studies that Libert and archaeologist Dr. Scott Demel, Ph.D, now with Northern Michigan University, subsequently conducted are suggestive.

First, the object, thought to be a bowsprit, is clearly hand hewn. The bowspritís construction appears fairly crude. It lacks any metal, which makes it consistent with having been constructed in the wilderness as opposed to a shipyard, as Le Griffon was.

Second, the location where Libert found the wreck is consistent with the research of the late Dr. George Quimby, archaeologist and Field Museum curator in the mid-twentieth century. Itís also consistent with Father Hennepinís description of the favorable winds Le Griffon set sail from when it left the Island of the Pottawatomi.

Finally, initial C-14 carbon dating tests performed by Beta Analytic Laboratories of Miami, FL and the University of Arizona are promising, though not conclusive. Dates in this period using this technique are somewhat ambiguous. However, the data from the C-14 dates donít preclude the possibility that the bowsprit is of sufficient age to be Le Griffon.

The Center for Maritime & Underwater Resource Management (CMURM), located in Laingsburg, Michigan, is actively cooperating with Great Lakes Exploration in further exploration and investigation of the wreck. Even if the wreck turns out not to be Le Griffon, Ken Vrana, President of CMURM, believes the ship will still be a very noteworthy archaeological find. There are thousands of shipwrecks in the Great Lakes, few of which have ever been recovered. Further, the evident age of the vessel Libert has located will add to our store of knowledge of a critical time in our nationís history.

Carbon dating of shipwreck looks promising. Go to our photo gallery
The late Dr. George Quimby's research on Le Griffon. Download and view a PDF of the book