Friday, June 25, 2010

722 L.R. Doty

722 L.R. Doty

Lake Michigan is no Lake Superior. But it's still a Great Lake where you can't see from one end to the other. And the L.R. Doty is a a pipsqueak of a boat compared to the Edmund Fitzgerald. But the Doty was the last of the great wooden ships of the century before last to be discovered at the bottom, and that discovery happened in June of 2010 pretty near Milwaukee. You have to wonder why it took so long. The Doty went down in what was by all contemporary accounts a hideous storm in 1898.

So how did they know that the wood they found off Milwaukee was in fact the Doty? Easy. It looked like the Doty, measured properly and was more or less fully intact. The fresh water and near freezing temperature keeps what the lake takes in pretty much its original condition. If they get to look closer -- and probably they will -- they may find 17 bodies inside, the captain and crew dead in the water and preserved better than any funeral director can -- and for much, much longer. No hole boring worms in the waters of the Lakes. In fact, not much of anything 300 feet below the surface.

Things can move slowly when it comes to the Lakes. The tip that sent the divers to the right spot came 20 years ago from a commercial fisherman who was doing some deep water work and found what he thought might be the Doty or at least part of it at the end of his line. There was a minor explosion of local interest, but no one wanted to take the plunge. Until now.

Also unlike ocean wrecks, this one -- like all the lake wrecks -- has an owner. In this case it's the people of the state of Wisconsin. That has both an up and a down side. The up is they finally found it. The down is they can't move it or take anything from the upright ship without permission of the historical society.

This was the only remaining large wooden steamer wreck on the Lakes still unaccounted for. One hundred twelve years in the making.




Shrapnel:

--Broadcaster Andy Fisher may have lost a little time and a little muscle after having what appears to be a mild heart attack. But he hasn't lost his sense of humor. He writes that while under the knife, he got his two stents worth.

--The various news services are reporting people boycotting BP gas stations. That's a lovely protest, but meaningless. It only hurts local business men and women who are the owners or tenants and buy their gasoline from Amoco/BP.

--It's more than two months since the oil gusher started in the Gulf of Mexico. You'd think by now the big agri-processors would have come to the rescue. They could market pre-oiled frozen fowl and sea creatures to a willing Microwave America.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you're welcome to them.®
©WJR 2010

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