The Search for Le Griffon: The White Whale of the Great Lakes?

White Whale Herman Melville Moby Dick

Le Griffon: The White Whale of the Great Lakes?

Someone told me “look out for the whales in Lake Michigan” before I headed off on this trip.  The Great Lakes are free of whales, but there might be a parable involving whales to this story…

A White Whale.

Since the Griffin went missing, over 40 expeditions have been launched to identify the final resting place of the fabled ship.  La Salle was the first to search for it.  Documents suggest he found a hatch or a piece of the decking, but nothing else.  Some say the Indians burned the ship.  Others, that La Salle’s crew sunk the ship after stealing the furs it carried.  Most accounts suggest it sunk in a furious storm, the likes of which the French sailors had never encountered… and never would again.

The lowest estimate of shipwrecks in the Great Lakes is 6,000.  Archaeologists in the state of Michigan have suggested that number should be 10,000 with the possibility of total shipwrecks being upwards of 15,000.  Le Griffon is presumed to be the first…

History continues to rewrite itself.  The French dive team has stated for the record that they believe the  wooden object is likely a bow sprit or part of a mast.  As the team works to preserve and or extract the wooden beam from the depths, perhaps cellular analysis can place the tree that made this object somewhere along the shores of Lake Erie.  If that’s the case, there is a very good chance that Libert has found Le Griffon.


A canoe cuts through the waters off the Garden Peninsula, near where the team has been searching for La Salle’s missing ship.
David J. Ruck – Rubangfilms

Steve has been searching for the ship for the last 33 years, tirelessly.  An entire team surrounded him and his wife as they have spent countless days over the years searching the waters off the Garden Peninsula for clues, signs, anything that would fit the stories Steve was assembling from the research.  Mountains of research:  Le Griffon existed.  It sailed on the Great Lakes.  It left Washington Island off Green Bay, Wisconsin.  It never reached Fort Niagara.
Over 40 expeditions since it sunk.  Few answers.  New questions.
People will continue to search for Le Griffon.  What La Salle was doing in the New World will continue to unfold and be understood more clearly.  Perhaps the next expedition will reveal something promising, something missed… or maybe, like Moby Dick, the Griffon is not supposed to be caught.
Divers ascend after a dive.

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