Father and Daughter Discover 152-Year-Old Shipwreck While Fishing in Green Bay

Reddit // u/MidlandsRepublic2048

Tim Wollak and his six-year-old daughter Henley embarked on a summer fishing adventure on Lake Michigan, blissfully unaware that they were about to stumble upon a historical marvel beneath the waves. While they were fishing, their boat’s sonar revealed intriguing shapes on the lake floor. Henley, with her vivid imagination, likened the formations to octopus tentacles. Tim, however, sensed something more profound – a potential shipwreck. Intrigued, he shared sonar images on Facebook, setting off a chain of events that would unveil a piece of maritime history.

Revealing the Mystery

Maritime archaeologists from the Wisconsin Historical Society examined the sonar images and identified the potential shipwreck as the George L. Newman, lost more than 150 years ago during a tragic fire. Constructed in 1855 by shipbuilder Benjamin Flint, the George L. Newman was a 122-foot-long barkentine, a sailing vessel designed for operating with a smaller crew. On October 8, 1871, amid the chaos of the Great Peshtigo Fire, the ship, full of lumber, ran aground near Green Island.


Smoke from the raging fire obscured the ship’s path. Lighthouse keeper Samuel Drew rescued the crew, who sought refuge at the Green Island lighthouse. Despite attempts to salvage their vessel, they eventually abandoned it. Covered by sand over time, the ship faded into obscurity until the Wollaks’ discovery. The shipwreck’s history intertwines with the Great Peshtigo Fire, an overshadowed catastrophe that claimed over 1,200 lives and ravaged vast acres.

Future Exploration and Recognition

As maritime archaeologists eagerly anticipate the arrival of spring, their focus is set on conducting a meticulous and comprehensive analysis of the discovered shipwreck. The potential nomination for inclusion in the esteemed National Register of Historic Places adds an extra layer of significance to their upcoming exploration. Tamara Thomsen, a dedicated maritime archaeologist, openly expresses her enthusiasm for the upcoming dive, highlighting the importance of documenting every detail of the site extensively.

While the experts gear up for this promising venture into the underwater realm, Tim and Henley Wollaks continue to enjoy the aftermath of their remarkable find. Tim, in a moment of excitement and pride, shared with Henley the uniqueness of their discovery. He conveyed the thrill of realizing that, in all likelihood, none of her schoolmates could boast about unearthing and documenting a shipwreck as they did.