Troy library program to comb through Great Lakes shipwrecks

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published November 13, 2018

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TROY — Thousands of ships have sunk in the waters of the Great Lakes.

Some estimates put the number of shipwrecked ships as high as 10,000.

Joel Stone, senior curator for the Detroit Historical Society, will present a program titled “Disaster on the Great Lakes: The Gales of November” at the Troy Public Library at 7 p.m. Nov. 26.

“People love local history,” said Donna Garbarino, adult services librarian for the Troy Public Library. She added that the freighter SS Edmund Fitzgerald sank in Lake Superior on Nov. 10, 1975, and remains an “endless fascination.”

Stone said that many have forgotten the long history of commercial sailing that occurred on the Great Lakes.

“In the 1880s, 3,000 schooners sailed on the Great Lakes in a single year,” Stone said, adding that the number doesn’t include steamships or ships carrying people or iron ore.

“There were some really fierce storms on the Great Lakes,” he said.

He said that before the days of radio, ships would start out the day with good weather and within half a day be in the midst of an ugly storm.

Stone said he will talk about the various organizations that are studying, capturing and preserving the history of shipwrecks on the Great Lakes.

“They’re finding them all the time. It’s not easy at the bottom of a lake. Great work is being done. There’s a lot more work to do,” Stone said.

For example, this year, a research team from the National Museum of the Great Lakes, located in Toledo, identified the wreck of the Lake Serpent in Lake Erie.

“While the SS Edmund Fitzgerald is top of mind — it was a horrible event — there have been thousands of horrible events,” Stone said. “With the advent of new technology, research tools and information sharing, discoveries of shipwrecks continue.”

Call (248) 524-3534 or visit to register.

The library is located at 510 W. Big Beaver Road.