Illustration Robert Doornbos
By Eric Gaertner - Mlive
The long, mysterious trip of a Muskegon lumber schooner's final voyage is figuratively over.
An exhibit is set to open next week in Muskegon to honor the Hackley & Hume schooner Thomas Hume, its sinking in Lake Michigan nearly 120 years ago and Muskegon's lumbering era.
The exhibit, entitled “Unsolved Mysteries: The Shipwreck Thomas Hume,” will be open for public viewing beginning Wednesday in the City Barn at the Hackley & Hume Historic Site, 484 W. Webster Ave.
Based on a partnership between the Lakeshore Museum Center in Muskegon and Holland-based Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates, the exhibit is part of a larger event planned for the 120th anniversary of the schooner's disappearance.
The May 21 special event will feature the debut of a documentary film and book about the Thomas Hume, along with a concert by a Great Lakes folksinger.
John McGarry, executive director of the Lakeshore Museum Center, said the Thomas Hume shipwreck and exhibit provides a look into Great Lakes maritime history and Muskegon's lumbering era.
“The loss of the Thomas Hume was one of the great unsolved mysteries of Lake Michigan,” McGarry said.
The exhibit is designed to highlight the mysteries surrounding the Thomas Hume. The schooner's disappearance reached legendary status among mariners at the time as rumors, including a UFO abduction or a collision with a steamship, abounded about the tragedy's cause. The captain and six others died.
By locating and identifying the shipwreck in southern Lake Michigan as the Thomas Hume, divers and historians quashed those century-old theories.
Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates, a group that helps locate and identify undocumented shipwrecks from Pentwater to the Indiana border, and others concluded that the three-masted, 132-foot schooner sank during a squall. The company had claimed in 1891 that the schooner was too well-maintained to have succumbed to a storm.