It disappeared into the waters of Lake Ontario more than a hundred years ago-- and now a shipwrecked steamer has been found by two local explorers near Oak Orchard in Orleans County.
"It's history that's right in our own backyard, from a hundred years ago," shipwreck explorer Dan Scoville said. "It's like a time capsule."
Scoville and shipwreck explorer Jim Kennard found the giant steamer hundreds of feet below the surface of Lake Ontario, encrusted with zebra mussels and covered in silt.
"We were able to find the anchors and the propellers in place, and the rudder," Scoville said. "And we can see the ship's boiler, and the smokestack for the ship is laying next to it."
Scoville and Kennard discovered the wreck with sonar while looking for a different ship.
They sent a machine called a remote operated vehicle down to the bottom to take photos.
"It's a little square robot," Scoville said. "It has four cameras, and four lights, and four thrusters...which are little propellers for underwater."
The ROV helped them find clues to piece together the ship's identity.
"You have to be kind of like a shipwreck detective and use all the parts and pieces you can see or measure, and then go back to the original documents of the ship and match them up," Kennard said.
The ship was nearly 150 feet long and 30 feet wide, and they identified it as the Samuel F. Hodge.
Built in 1881, the steamer was carrying 600 tons of iron wire from Cleveland to Prescott, Ontario when it caught on fire and the crew abandoned ship.
"The fire burned it pretty close to the water line, and so everything above that is pretty much burned and gone," Scoville said. "But everything that was below the water line or close to the water line still remains just like it was when it went down."
Working together, Scoville and Kennard have found about a dozen shipwrecks--each one, a new piece of history.
"A lot of time goes by sometimes before you do find a shipwreck," Kennard said, "but when you do find one...it's really a thrill."
Scoville and Kennard are currently working on another shipwreck they've found in Lake Ontario.
They say they could make an announcement about that ship's identity later this year.
Posted on Aug 27 2009, 11:17 PM
These guys are the ones who found the HMS Ontario last year. I imagine the location of this wreck was determined when looking for the Ontario. The lakes must be amazing places. I've only been along the shore of one (and can't remember which one) but that picture in my memory always give the impression of an inland sea.
OAK ORCHARD, N.Y. (AP) - Two upstate New York underwater explorers have discovered a 19th-century steamer that caught fire and sank in southern Lake Ontario with a cargo of 600 tons of iron wire.
Jim Kennard and Dan Scoville discovered the Samuel F. Hodge in 2007 while using sonar to search for another vessel. The previously unknown wreck was found in several hundred feet of water just west of Rochester.
This year, the divers returned with a remotely operated vehicle to explore the site. The wreck had no nameplate. But by using measurements and photographs to search shipwreck databases, they determined it was the Hodge.
The Buffalo-based steamer was traveling from Cleveland to Prescott, Ontario when it caught fire and sank in July 1896. Except for one man, the crew was saved by a passing ship.
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