Another day, another debunking. Accompanied by two Michigan State police divers, Archaeologists Dean Anderson and Wayne Lusardi examined a wreck site in Lake Michigan claimed by two Muskegon treasure hunters to be that of legendary lost Great Lakes shipwreck Le Griffon.
Built by French explorer Rene-Robert Cavelier the Le Griffon was intended to discover the Northwest Passage, but sank during her maiden voyage in 1679.
Treasure hunters Kevin Dykstra and Frederick Monroe discovered the shipwreck on the lake bed in 2011 while searching for a lost shipment of Confederate gold. They sat on the find for three years before announcing the find to the media, claiming to have found no evidence of modern machinery and a carving of a griffin that resembled 17th century contemporaries. The story was widely reprinted in media outlets such as USA Today, the Daily Mail, the Huffington Post and others.
As far as investigations go, this one does not appear to have been difficult. At 80 feet in length, the wreck site was too large to be that of the Le Griffon, and the archaeologists spotted steam machinery as well.
Not the Griffin, state archaeologists say after dive to Lake Michigan Wreck (MLive.com)
I do hope I’m wrong about this, but I predict that USA Today and other news stories that printed the initial tall tale (which drew my ire at the time) will not update their readership with how woeful wrong they got it the first time ’round.