Mysterious 1940 Shipwreck of the Arlington Discovered in Lake Superior

The Arlington - Courtesy Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society (GLSHS)
The Arlington - Courtesy Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society (GLSHS)

Captain of the Arlington Went Down with His Ship

In a significant maritime discovery, the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society (GLSHS), in collaboration with shipwreck researcher Dan Fountain, has unveiled the final resting place of the Arlington, a 244-foot bulk carrier that met its demise in the tumultuous waters of Lake Superior in 1940. Located in over 600 feet of water approximately 35 miles north of Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula, this discovery brings closure to one of the lake’s enduring mysteries.

Decades-Long Mystery Solved: The Arlington Found North of Keweenaw Peninsula

For over ten years, Dan Fountain, a dedicated shipwreck researcher from Negaunee, Michigan, has scoured Lake Superior’s depths using remote sensing data in search of lost ships.

The Arlington - Courtesy Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society (GLSHS)
The Arlington – Courtesy Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society (GLSHS)

His investigation led to identifying a deep anomaly suspected to be a shipwreck. With the support of the GLSHS and utilizing advanced side-scan sonar technology aboard the R/V David Boyd, the team confirmed the anomaly as the Arlington.

Further exploration through ROV dives provided undeniable evidence of the ship’s identity.

Team Effort Leads to Historic Discovery: Collaboration Between GLSHS and Dan Fountain Unveils Lost Ship

Bruce Lynn, GLSHS Executive Director, emphasized the critical role of teamwork in the discovery process. Fountain’s initial findings and the subsequent joint exploration efforts exemplify the power of collaboration in uncovering and preserving Great Lakes history. This partnership has not only located the Arlington but also illuminated its story, previously shrouded in mystery.

The Final Voyage of the Arlington: A Tragic Storm and a Captain’s Last Stand

The Arlington embarked from Port Arthur, Ontario (now Thunder Bay) on April 30, 1940, laden with wheat and bound for Owen Sound, Ontario. Commanded by Captain Frederick “Tatey Bug” Burke, the vessel encountered dense fog and a severe storm, leading to a fateful decision.

Despite the first mate’s suggestion to seek shelter along the Canadian North Shore, Captain Burke insisted on maintaining their course. In the early hours of May 1, as the Arlington began to sink, the crew, without orders, abandoned ship for the safety of the Collingwood, leaving Captain Burke to go down with his vessel.

His last moments, waving at the Collingwood from the pilothouse, remain a poignant image of maritime lore.

Exploring the Depths: Advanced Technology Reveals Ship’s Final Resting Place

The use of Marine Sonic Technology side-scan sonar and ROV dives were instrumental in identifying the Arlington’s wreck, showcasing the importance of modern exploration tools in solving historical puzzles.

These technological advancements have allowed researchers to document and study shipwrecks that lie in the deep, inaccessible parts of Lake Superior.

Legacy of the Arlington: Providing Closure to a Great Lakes Mystery

The discovery of the Arlington not only adds a significant chapter to the history of Great Lakes shipping but also offers some measure of solace to those connected to the tragedy.

As researchers continue to unravel the stories of ships like the Arlington, they keep alive the legacy of those who sailed the Great Lakes and faced its formidable challenges.

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