Wreckage of ship that set sail 120 years ago discovered as Great Salt Lake shrinks
GREAT SALT LAKE, UTAH: A wreckage of a ship that originally set sail on the Great Salt Lake 120 years ago, has reappeared in the water body as the Western Hemisphere's biggest saltwater lake shrinks to an astonishingly low level. The Great Salt Lake is thought to include scores of shipwrecks that go back 150 years, some of which have reappeared after storms or when water levels are low.
The sunken ship that had been lost for decades surfaced near the shore at the Great Salt Lake State Park just yards from the visitor’s center, ABC4 reported. “It’s very exciting to see a piece of history that people can come out and see, but it’s also sad that the lake is this low,” Park Manager Dave Shearer told the station. “We’ve got trouble out here. Problems.”
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Shearer has worked in the park for almost two decades and has never seen water levels as low as they are now. Nonetheless, when the ship was unearthed, he was ecstatic to hear of its history, the outlet noted. Shearer said that the ship's hull was still intact as it surfaced and with its unique design they eventually discovered through the records that the ship was the WE Marsh No 4. “It’s leaning on its side and you’re seeing its starboard side of the hull and you can see the whole hull,” Shearer stated.
Wreckage from the WE Marsh No 4 was discovered by chance near the lake's marina in 2014, while a state park worker was looking for a keel that had fallen off a sailboat as per a report in The Salt Lake Tribune.“This was one of the first boats that came out here in 1902 to build the trestle, so it was fairing people back and forth to the work site,” Shearer explained as he looked out over the observation deck at the wreckage below. “It was also used to haul or push barges around.” He added that the 40-foot boat was part of the Southern Pacific Railroad's fleet and traveled from San Francisco to Utah. It was used to construct the Lucin Cutoff railroad trestle.
For decades, the railroad used the boat. Shearer recounted that in 1935, a tiny plane transporting oil company officials crashed into the lake, killing all three people on board. Soon later, the oil business contacted the Southern Pacific and requested that the boat scour the lake for the plane. The boat successfully completed the mission in 1936. Southern Pacific then gave it to the Sea Scouts "to educate young youngsters the skill of sailing, as well as for community boat races and other events," according to Shearer. The boat vanished from historical records in about 1950, with no mention of how it sank or if anyone was onboard, as per the report.