The underwater world holds countless secrets and stories from the past, ready to be unveiled by intrepid explorers. One such story lies in the wreckage of the Westmoreland, a steamship that sunk in Lake Michigan's icy waters in December 1854. After decades of attempts to locate the doomed ship and her estimated US$20 million worth of treasure, diver Ross Richardson finally discovered the wreckage in 2010.
Today, the Westmoreland's cargo remains a mystery waiting to be unlocked. However, securing the legal rights to salvage the treasure and performing the actual extraction will be no small feat considering the artifact's location and historical significance.
The Sinking of the Westmoreland
On December 7, 1854, the Westmoreland encountered a ferocious snowstorm en route to Milwaukee from Chicago. The blizzard's force was so overwhelming that the ship was torn apart and began to sink, sending her crew desperately scrambling for safety. Tragically, 17 crew members lost their lives, leaving only a handful of survivors stranded in lifeboats. The sinking of the Westmoreland marked a tragedy and a mystery that would remain unsolved for over a century.
The Rediscovery of the Westmoreland
Ross Richardson, an experienced diver with a deep-seated passion for shipwrecks, stumbled upon the Westmoreland wreckage in 2010, lying in the depths of Lake Michigan. The ship's rusted hull bore witness to decades of submersion, yet her cargo had remained mostly intact. Despite the harsh conditions of diving in the Great Lakes, Richardson has managed to explore the wreckage and gather invaluable information on the state of the vessel and its contents.
The Treasure Within the Wreckage
The Westmoreland's cargo includes various valuable items, the most alluring of which is the 280 barrels of whiskey that are said to be worth a fortune to modern distilleries. Furthermore, the steamship carried substantial gold, with double eagle coins being one of the most significant finds. Additionally, other valuable artifacts may still be hidden within the wreck, and Richardson's ongoing research could uncover clues about the ship's history and the nature of her voyage.
Salvaging the Westmoreland's Treasures
Securing the legal right to salvage Westmoreland's treasure is an ongoing challenge for Richardson, as acquiring the necessary permits has proved time-consuming and bureaucratic. Even if Richardson is granted permission, extracting the gold and whiskey will be a monumental undertaking, requiring specialized equipment and resources to safely and effectively retrieve the artifacts from the murky depths.
Shipwrecks and Underwater Treasures
The Westmoreland is just one of many fascinating examples of the profitable and intriguing world of underwater treasure hunting. As interest in underwater archaeology has risen in recent years, numerous discoveries of valuable shipwrecks have been made, such as rare and expensive bottles of Champagne recovered from ocean depths. These revelations have spurred debates about the ethics of salvaging historical artifacts from their watery resting places and underscore the fascinating complexities of the underwater world.