Sunken treasure movies are played out at this point. We get it, a ship hauling massive amounts of gold and treasure (usually pirates) sank, and you have to find the priceless relic on board.

But back in the day, Ships on the Great Lakes were carrying (in my opinion) something FAR more valuable - WHISKEY! And a cache found on a 170-year-old wreck could sell for millions of dollars... if the State of Michigan would just let the man who discovered it salvage the wreck!

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The Westmoreland is a pretty famous Lake Michigan wreck. It went down in 1854 with 34 passengers plus the crew aboard. Sadly,17 people perished after it attempted to pass through the Manitou Passage during a winter storm.

But in the hull of the ship was something VERY valuable... gold... AND 280 BARRELS OF WHISKEY! Newspapers ran with the story, describing in detail how much gold and whiskey was on board. The rumor was, it was headed to an Army Fort with a stash of gold to pay the soldiers' wages, and of course, the whiskey.

The Westmoreland Artist Rendering Youtube/NMiWrecks

For 156 years, nobody could find the ship. People know ABOUT where it was, but nobody had laid eyes on it since it sank in 1854. Then, in 2010, Ross Richardson took a dive team 200 feet below the surface and using modern technology, and great eyesight, he managed to discover the Westmoreland shipwreck.

Sadly for Ross, Michigan Law prevents amateur divers from salvaging shipwrecks without authorization. And under the Federal Abandoned Shipwreck Law of 1987, it "affirms the authority of State Governments to claim and manage abandoned shipwrecks on state submerged lands."

So the State of Michigan essentially owns the wreck, and everything on board. But that didn't stop Ross from at least attempting to see if the treasure was still there. And by "treasure," I definitely mean the whiskey.


Ross told The Daily Mail:

"(The Gold) would be worth about a million dollars if we melted them down and sold them. The true value is the numismatic value of these coins, which could realistically be more than $20 million today.
The Whiskey, meanwhile, is exceptionally rare, and regional distilleries have already expressed interest in purchasing it to use for testing and sale."

So basically, the gold's value is pretty well set. But the WHISKEY... The Sky's the limit! If a distillery REALLY wanted it, they'd be willing to pay literally anything to get it. 

It's not entirely clear how much of the whiskey has survived, or if any of it has. But, IF it did, and they were able to sell it, Ross could potentially be a VERY rich man, and we could be sipping on some of the rarest whiskey in the world... that's assuming the State of Michigan will ever let them salvage the wreck.

So, let me address the State of Michigan real quick here...

Dear Michigan Leaders,
You can KEEP the Gold.

20 Michigan Shipwrecks You Can See with Google Earth

Michigan's waters are the final resting place for a LOT of ships. Here are at least 20 you can see with Google Earth

Old Michigan Shipwrecks, Early 1900s

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