Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Shipwreck of La Salle's Griffin found?

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ON LAKE MICHIGAN NEAR POVERTY ISLAND, Mich. -- Divers began opening an underwater pit Saturday at a remote site in northern Lake Michigan they say could be the resting place of the Griffin, a ship commanded by the 17th-century French explorer La Salle.

U.S. and French archaeologists examined sediment removed from a hole dug near a timber slab expedition leader Steve Libert discovered wedged in the lake bed in 2001. They found a 38-centimetre slab of blackened wood that might have been a human-fashioned "cultural artifact," although more analysis will be required to determine whether it was part of a vessel, project manager Ken Vrana said.

Libert, who has spent about three decades searching for the Griffin (also known by its French equivalent Le Griffon), said he hoped that by today, the excavation would reach what sonar readings indicate is a distinct shape beneath several metres of sediment. The object is over 12 metres long and about 5.5 metres wide -- dimensions similar to those the Griffin is believed to have had, Vrana said.

But he said it was too early to declare the site a shipwreck, let alone the object of their quest.

"Soon we will find out whether our assumption is correct or not," Vrana said.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 16, 2013 A6

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