Somewhere in the depths of Lake Michigan, where it’s deepest part measures nearly 1,000 feet, lays an ancient relic that has eluded explorers for 335 years. But now, two divers from Michigan believe they have located it.
The “it” is the Le Griffon, aka the Griffin, an old, wooden ship that went down in the northern part of the lake in 1679. It has been elusive ever since. Kevin Dykstra and Frederick Monroe, however, say they discovered the ship at the bottom of the lake in 2011, and they’re just now coming forward because they’ve been taking the time to confirm the find.
But the best part of the story may be how the pair says they found the ship: It was all by accident.
“When I was down there, I turned around and I was literally four feet from this shipwreck and I never saw it on my way down,” Dykstra told local outlet WZZM-TV, “so my return trip was quite fast.”
“It really wasn’t until we got back to a computer and viewed the photos that I realized I very well could have been photographing the Griffin,” he added.
After returning home and consulting experts, the duo believes they most certainly found the ship. Especially considering what they didn’t see when they were under water.
“We researched online to find a 17th-century French Griffin, and the one we came up with, I over-layed on top of the photo [I took of the Griffin carving on the front of the ship] and it was really impressive,” Dykstra told the outlet. “So it’s either a 100-to-1 odds that the front of the ship looks exactly like a griffin, and I don’t know how that can happen by coincidence, and to know that the wood carvers that built the Griffin carved the likeness of a Griffin in the front of the ship, it kind of lends itself towards that.”
So if the pair discovered it on accident, what were they really searching for? Not surprisingly, gold.
“We were looking for $2 million dollars in gold bullion that is somewhere at the bottom of Lake Michigan,” Dykstra explained. “In the late 1800s, there were box cars crossing the Great Lakes, and some of those box cars were pushed off from car ferries that were hauling them to save the ferries in bad storms.”
To be fair, this isn’t the first time someone has claimed to have found the Griffin. Earlier this year, another group of divers told the Associated Press they believed they discovered the ship in 2013. But scientists on that expedition cast plenty of doubt, saying the group likely only found an old fishing apparatus.
As for Dykstra and Monroe, now that they believe they found the ship they’re setting their sights back on the riches.
“We found the mystery ship, the Griffin; now we’re going to find the gold, ” Monroe told the news station.