Bulk carrier found on lake bottom gives glimpse into history

Great Lakes shipwreck enthusiasts this week received a bit of welcome news when it was announced that the 244-foot bulk carrier Arlington, lost in Lake Superior storm in 1840 with exactly one person aboard, had been located.

The Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society and shipwreck researcher Dan Fountain announced the discovery Monday.

The Arlington was found in about 650 feet of water roughly 35 miles north of the Keweenaw Peninsula. As with many wooden wrecks located in Superior’s icy depths, the Arlington, at least according to the photos released by Fountain, appears to be in relatively good condition.

According to the Associated Press, the Arlington left Port Arthur, Ontario, on April 30, 1940, fully loaded with wheat and headed to Owen Sound, Ontario.

The ship began to take on water in a storm.

“It’s exciting to solve just one more of Lake Superior’s many mysteries, finding Arlington so far out in the lake,” Fountain said in a statement. “I hope this final chapter in her story can provide some measure of closure to the family of Captain Burke.”

Indeed Capt. Frederick Burke was the only person lost in the sinking. It was stated at the time that Burke, curiously nicknamed “Tady Bug,” could have made it off the ship and to safety — had he so desired.

The Arlington was discovered thanks to Fountain, a resident of Negaunee, who has been conducting remote sensing in Lake Superior in search of shipwrecks for about a decade.

The actual discovery was made last year.

It’s unclear what Fountain’s plans are but given the depth of the wreck, there probably won’t be a lot of SCUBA diving on it.

However the wreck is a another porthole into a long-ago time when wooden ships plied the Great Lakes.


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