118 Years ago the L.R. Doty was lost in the waters of Lake Michigan. The ship was the cutting edge and built with an incredible capacity to endure the elements. It was possibly this that became its downfall. One would think lessons such as this would be remembered, but years later the Titanic would suffer a similar fate. But for several years the schooner was the source of an incredible mystery as its wreckage had never been found. But just today the incident is reaching closure for the first time.
As divers made their way down the 300 feet of water to the floor of the Great Lake they made a discovery, finding first several planks of wood and finally peering through the murky water to the remains of a vast wrecked ship. The incredible find spurred the divers to send up a message to reassure their vessel that they were alright and would be back soon. The note also conveyed that the divers had discovered a piece of history, a massive wrecked freighter from another time.
The ship had been one of the last wooden vessels lost in the great lakes before steel hulls were more widely introduced. After the ship was lost speculation had abounded as to why the experienced crew and the vessel had gone under after so many good decisions by the captain and the crew had left them with so few incidents requiring rescue. Images of the vessel as it was discovered can be found on the database of shipwreck.com and an article from the same site about the incident.
Why are we so fascinated with wrecked ships of the past? What do they tell us about ourselves and our future in the world? The incident in question is an example of just the type of story that can soon find itself counted among the most incredible type of story, a mystery for which there is no known answer. The names of the 17 men who were lost on the vessel as it sank can soon find themselves immortalized by the telling and retelling of the tale. And yet even now as the vessel is found, the ship will remain on the bottom of the lake bed. Without the funding to preserve the long lost vessel, it will not be able to draw enough interest in a museum to justify its cleaning and preservation.
So why search for the vessel? Many elements of history are not found preserved in museums, but are sought out anyway for what we may remember from it and to help remember those who were lost and ensure they get an opportunity to be recognized. The loss and subsequent finding of the L.R. Doty is a reminder that even if our works and deeds may be lost in the sands of time, a diligent digger will always be able to uncover what we were able to do and remember us as well. And one of the lessons here is clear enough as well. One must always be aware of the dangers of any given profession.