Have sonar, will travel

“In August 1868, a double-masted Canadian schooner named the Royal Albert was en route to Toledo, Ohio, loaded down with 285 tons of railroad iron when the heavy cargo suddenly shifted. The iron rails busted the hull open and sent the ship to the bottom of the lake. While the crew survived, the ship was lost for nearly 150 years-until earlier this month, when a group of underwater explorers finally discovered it.”

During the late 19th century, it was common for heavy goods to be shipped to the midwest via ships traversing the Great Lakes. While many other goods were often delivered by smaller canal boats, heavier materials ā€“ like the iron used to build the country’s railroads ā€“ had to be sent on large ships like the Royal Albert, as Jim Kennard, one of the ship’s discoverers, tells Chris Carola for the Associated Press. During that time, thousands of ships sunk while crossing the Great Lakes, providing plenty of fodder for history buffs and underwater explorers.

The team that discovered the Royal Albert uses side-scan sonar to find wrecks.

They have located many others in Lake Ontario, including a USAF C-45 that crashed into the lake in 1952 after flying, pilotless, for 65 miles (the crew parachuted to safety after an engine failed – the plane kept on going for a while), the Atlas, a commercial schooner that sank in 1839, and the Three Brothers, a dagger-board schooner that sank in 1833.

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