Secrets lie on the bottom of the Bays de Noc

By Karen Wils-Daily Press

A foghorn moans out on Little Bay de Noc.

From the waters of Green Bay to the head of our "little bay," a secret is out there.

Slip back in time. When the moonbeams touch the water, time knows no boundaries. The year 2012, blends and flows and stirs up voices from decades past.

The sad song of a Frenchman rolls with the waves. Feel the wind from a September gale ruffle the slightly tinged leaves along Washington Island, St. Martin's Island, the Stonington Peninsula and Sand Point (Escanaba). The secret is out there.

Suddenly the waves close in from three directions. There is the smell of wet furs, smoke and then silence.

Into a dark, murky, icy, tomb is cast The GRIFFON.

It was the first European ship, (not native birch bark or dug-out canoe) to ever sail the Upper Great Lakes. And it is out there only a hop and a skip away from Escanaba.

History books tells us that the Griffon was built above Niagara Falls and came to Lake Michigan in 1679. The ship belonged to King Louis XIV of France. It was the flagship for explorer, Robert LaSalle.

After stopping over on an island, LaSalle sent the Griffon on ahead towards home with 6,000 pound of fur and other trade items. But the storm called out instead stealing the sailors, the furs, and an iron cannon with the insignia of King Louis on it.

Looking southward from our sandy Escanaba shores, out over the water horizon, perhaps we can almost see where the Griffon was last seen.

U.S. Navy man and shipwreck hunter, Steve Libert, found what he believes is the Griffon in 2001. Is the mystery solved about the long-lost ship ? Maybe, but now there is a storm of legal battles to weather.

The ship is believed to be between Escanaba and St. Martin Island.

Is it in Wisconsin waters or Michigan's ? Does it belong to the United States or France ?


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Steve Libert Niagara River Wisconsin Capt. Carl Carlson Upper Lake Michigan Griffon