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The “holy grail” of Great Lakes shipwrecks disappeared 339 years ago this week

woodcut of le griffon
Wikimedia Commons

Today, we’re taking you way back to the summer of 1679. It was on this Friday, 339 years ago, that the French ship Le Griffon appeared on the Detroit River.

It was the first large scale, European style sailing ship to reach the shores of what would eventually become Michigan.

But little did its crew suspect that the Le Griffon would soon become the “holy grail” of Great Lakes ship wrecks.

Sandra Clark, director of the Michigan History Center, and Valerie Van Heest, author and shipwreck hunter, joined Stateside to tell us how French ship Le Griffon disappeared into the Great Lakes.

The fate of the Le Griffon offers many intriguing mysteries to those interested in shipwrecks, most notably the fact that the ship’s discovery has not been confirmed.

“Some would believe that the Griffon sank somewhere in Lake Michigan in the northern part of the lake and has yet to be found,” explained Van Heest. 

To learn more about who built the Le Griffon, and why it's still not clear whether the ship has been found, listen above.

This segment is produced in partnership with the Michigan History Center

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