By Mary Lynn Smith - Star Tribune
The Antelope, an 1800s schooner barge, rests about 300 below the surface of Lake Superior near the Apostle Islands. A trio of shipwreck hunters found the nearly intact ship earlier this month.
Resting more than 300 feet below Lake Superior’s surface, two distinctive ship’s masts rose from the lake’s dark depths. A six-year search for the Antelope, an 1800s schooner barge, was over.
A dedicated trio of shipwreck hunters discovered the nearly intact ship resting in the waters near the Apostle Islands. The find is remarkable because it’s one of the only wooden schooners found at the bottom of the lake with its masts still standing, said Jerry Eliason, 63, of Scanlon, who found the Antelope, along with Ken Merryman, 67, of Fridley, and Kraig Smith, 63, of Rice Lake, Wis.
Before the ship was discovered earlier in September, it also was one of about 30 wrecks still missing in Lake Superior, he said. “They’re all pieces of history,” said Merryman, a retired computer engineer who has hunted shipwrecks for more than 40 years.
“They all hold information about the maritime history of our region. As someone who discovers this, you get to open a time capsule and see first hand what treasure is there.
And you get to solve a mystery at the same time.” Lake Superior holds onto about 400 shipwrecks, Eliason said. Most of those ships were driven into shore in a fog, a storm or blizzard and are “broken up into bits and pieces and shredded,” he said.