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Historic Lake Erie Shipwreck to be Salvaged

There are many shipwrecks beneath the waters of Lake Erie

But a salvage outfit called Northeast Research LLC believes one sitting in 176 feet of water 20 miles off the coast of Dunkirk to be of significant historical interest.

“If it’s the ship we believe it is, then it was built in 1797,” said
Northeast Research videographer Pat Clyne who has made several dives on what he now believes is the Caledonia, a warship once used by Admiral Perry in the war of 1812, and later refitted as a commercial schooner called the General Wayne.

“Even if it isn’t, it’s still a turn of the century built ship in absolutely perfect shape,” Clyne told 2 On Your Side.

As they continue to pull up artifacts and do research to positively identify the vessel, they are also working on a plan to raise it and display it in a large aquarium on Buffalo’s waterfront.

It would be a monumental task both technically and financially.

“Absolutely. It’s never been done before in North America,” Clyne said.

While he says private funds will cover the millions needed to salvage the ship, he’s been meeting with representatives of the federal, state and local governments to see if they’re interested using grant money from the inner harbor project to bring it here and create what he insists will be an attraction to rival other national treasures like the Alamo and the Liberty Bell.

“We like to call it Buffalo’s missing icon because in the seal of City of Buffalo you have a schooner right in the center of it. This ship belongs to Buffalo, …this is Buffalo’s lost son come home. We believe it’s going to create a tourist destination area here in Buffalo just to see this historical ship,” Clyne said.

Clyne insists most of the remaining legal hurdles, including a federal court’s granting of ownership of the ship to his company, and permission from the state to actually move it, will be cleared by the end of the year.

To see what the shipwreck looks like, be sure and click on the video icon on the upper right hand side of this story.


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