GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - Many have experienced the beauty that lies above the surface of Lake Superior.
Ken Merryman is one of the few who's experienced the beauty below it.
For the past six years, Merryman, 67, of Fridley, along with Jerry Eliason, 63, of Scanlon and Kraig Smith, 63, of Rice Lake Wis. have been searching on and off for an 1800s era ship.
"And sure enough,” Merryman recalled, while on his boat two weeks ago. "'Hey! Look at this! Look at this!’ And we looked at the sonar, it was unmistakable."
Near the Apostle Islands they dropped their camera below the surface about the length of a football field.
"There is no other schooner on Lake Superior that has a mast standing," he said, at least that they know of.
The ship, called the Antelope, is an old schooner barge originally built back when Abraham Lincoln was president, he said. They believe it sank in 1897.
"It started leaking,” he said. "They did what they could and everyone abandoned ship and down she went.”
So why so pristine when they found it? Merryman believes the ship was carrying coal, a neutrally buoyant cargo. So instead of crashing to the bottom, it essentially floated to it.
"So that was pretty amazing,” he recalled.
This discovery was their second this summer on Lake Superior, discovering a shipwreck called the Seaverns from around the same time. Unlike the Antelope, they were able to dive down to capture video of this vessel. The video shows plates still stacked in the cabin.
It is two of nearly 20 floating time capsules they've discovered over the years, and it's still like the first time.
"It’s a chance to see something no one else gets to see,” he said.
But it’s getting tougher. Eliason suspects there are about 400 shipwrecks in Lake Superior with maybe as many as 100 that have been found.
“Hunting for shipwrecks is almost like hunting for endangered species because there aren’t too many left to find,” said Eliason.
(© 2016 KARE)