A Small Press Independent Publisher


Legendary Lake Michigan Shipwrecks

By Valerie Van Heest

Titanic sank in 1912 and the stories of amazing survival and tragic loss made the ocean liner famous. Titanic’s discovery in 1985—and the images captured of the grand staircase, the pilothouse, and the dripping rusticles—made Titanic legendary.

Likewise, the many shipwrecks presented in Lost and Found became even more famous after their discoveries than at the time of their losses, gaining notoriety as historic attractions, archaeological sites, and in some cases, over bold salvage attempts or precedent- setting legal battles. Through riveting narrative, the award-winning author and explorer takes the readers back in time to experience the careers and tragic sinkings of these ships, then beneath the lake to participate in the triumphant discovery and exciting exploration of their remains and the circumstances that led to their status as legendary shipwrecks.

The vessels in this comprehensive publication span the age of sail, steam, and diesel on the Great Lakes from the earliest schooners to the sidewheel steamers, propellers, carferries, self-unloaders, and yachts. They include ships lost in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan waters that were discovered by some of the lake’s most prolific wreck hunters, including the author’s own organization—Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates—in partnerships with legendary wreck hunters David Trotter, Ralph Wilbanks, and nationally acclaimed author Clive Cussler. Presented chronologically based on the date discovered, these shipwrecks provide an overview of evolving diver attitudes and conduct, as well as the laws affecting exploration and documentation.

Most assuredly, the compelling sagas of these important vessels did not end when the waves of Lake Michigan washed over them.

Nonfiction ISBN: 978-0-9801750-5-9 | Soft cover | 6×9 Format | 304 Pages | 192 Illustrations | $19.95 Free U.S. Shipping


What Readers are saying:

Valerie Olson van Heest’s newest book, Lost and Found, takes readers deep into the human side of twenty of Lake Michigan’s most famous shipwrecks. Not only does her very well-researched book present details of the initial loss of the boats, but of the dramas that unfolded after the boats settled on the bottom of the lake. Van Heest uses her vast diving experience and her extensive contacts in the Great Lakes diving community to present the heretofore untold personal stories of men and women touched by the tragedies.
– Neel R. Zoss, Author of McDougall’s Great Lakes Whalebacks.

“Beginning with the early pioneers of scuba diving in the Lake Michigan region, Valerie Olson van Heest takes the reader along on an historical tour de force of ships gone missing and their subsequent discoveries often more than a century later. Though many of these discoveries dealt with a tremendous amount of controversy, some of them leading to high-profile and contentious legal cases, van Heest travels the “high road” in presenting the tales in a fair and even-handed manner.”
– Craig Rich, author of For Those in Peril and Through Surf and Storm.

This book delivers true tales of Lake Michigan ships lost, discovered, and explored, as well as the history of state and federal shipwreck legislation and preservation efforts made to guarantee the rights of all to explore shipwrecks. Valerie Olson van Heest has provided the most engaging, comprehensive overview of the events that shaped the past and will shape the future of Lake Michigan’s rich maritime history. Enjoy!
– David Trotter, renowned Great Lakes Shipwreck hunter and explorer and the subject of the book, Shipwreck Hunter by Gerry Volgenau.

Valerie van Heest is a principal in Lafferty van Heest and Associates Exhibit Design Firm, Director of Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates and a member of the Women Divers Hall of Fame, who has explored, documented and interpreted shipwrecks for over twenty years. She is a recipient of multiple awards from the Historical Society of Michigan for the collection, preservation and promotion of state and local history through her interpretation, writing, filmmaking and exhibit work. She has written several books, magazine/journal articles and more than a dozen documentary films.. Her work has been featured in numerous books and articles as well. Valerie is a regular presenter at museums, libraries, and film festivals, sharing the dramatic stories of ships gone missing on the Great Lakes and has appeared on television news networks as well as on the Discovery Channel. Valerie spearheads MSRA’s search for ships lost off western Michigan, which has resulted in the discovery of many new shipwrecks.

Contact the author at shipwrecked@chartermi.net


2017 Recipient of Joyce S. Hayward Award for Historic Interpretation from Association for Great Lakes Maritime History
2009 State History Award for the Exhibit “From Hennepin to the Thousand Footers” at the Heritage Museum and Cultural Center
2006 Induction into Women Divers Hall of Fame
2007 State History Award
for the volunteer contributions to the preservation of Michigan’s submerged maritime heritage