10 Must-See Sunken Treasures in Lakes and How They Were Found | LakeWizard

Key Takeaways

  • Sunken treasures in lakes offer exciting exploration.
  • These finds are fascinating pieces of history.
  • Discovery stories add to their intrigue.

Ever considered a treasure hunt beneath the waves?

Imagine discovering a time capsule, preserved in the depths of a lake, waiting for explorers like us.

Lakes harbor some of the most intriguing sunken treasures, from antique steamships to trains laden with history.

These underwater wonders tell tales of past eras and are gateways to adventure and discovery.

Trust us, the stories of how these hidden gems were found add an extra layer of excitement to their allure.

Just when you think you have seen all the mysteries the world has to offer, the depths of our lakes offer a new chapter to explore.

With each wreck's discovery, professionals and local lore enthusiasts add fascinating finds to our collective knowledge, granting us all a deeper understanding of the past.

Table of contents


SS Tahoe (Lake Tahoe, California/Nevada)

Have you ever heard of a sunken treasure resting deep beneath the crisp, blue waters of Lake Tahoe?

Let's dive into the story of the SS Tahoe.

Think of it as a time capsule from the early 1900s moored silently in the depths.

Why's it there?

Well, this historic steamship once cruised the lake, but by 1940, roads had rendered her services obsolete, so she was scuttled—deliberately sunk—by William Seth Bliss to honor its legacy.

Now, imagine a team equipped with the latest sonar and remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), exploring the lake's bed.

That's exactly what happened in 2002 when New Millennium Dive Expeditions discovered the SS Tahoe in her watery grave, about 400 feet down.

Here's a quick peek at what they found:

  • Brass fixtures once shining under the sun now lie muted beside mahogany trim.
  • The site encapsulates a piece of Lake Tahoe's golden era when the lake was graced by the presence of the "Queen of the Lake."

It's not every day that you stumble upon a shipwreck that can tell a story, right?

If you're keen on sunken ships, the SS Tahoe is a must-see.

It's not just about the wreck; it's about glimpsing a bygone era, one luxurious trip across Lake Tahoe at a time.

And you don't even need to get wet to appreciate its beauty and the remarkable engineering feats that brought her to rest at such a depth!

So, what do you think—ready to add the SS Tahoe to your list of must-see underwater treasures?

Stonewall Jackson (Lake Guntersville, Alabama)

Hey, history buffs and diving enthusiasts, have you heard about the hidden marvel in Lake Guntersville, Alabama?

It's a Confederate gunboat that took a dive during the Civil War and rested undisturbed until 1999.

Fascinating, right?

Imagine suiting up and diving down to where history lies in watery repose.

Here's what happened: a team of divers, armed with historical records and sonar maps, decided it was high time this old vessel saw the light of day—well, sort of.

They found the sunken gunboat, and since then, it's been an underwater hotspot for people like you who love combing through the past.

What's to expect?

  • A sunken Confederate gunboat, steeped in Civil War history
  • Discovery Date: 1999
  • Found by divers using historical clues and advanced sonar technology
  • Now a celebrated dive site for underwater explorers

Diving down to see the wreck, you're literally touching a piece of history.

It's not every day you get to encounter a Civil War relic up close.

And who knows, you might even feel like you've time-traveled!

Here's the best part: the gunboat is wonderfully preserved.

You can still make out the craftsmanship of the vessel despite its years under.

And it's waiting for you to pay a visit.

So, why not make a splash into history and add Lake Guntersville to your adventure list?

Just remember to respect the site—it's not just a dive location, it's a page from history.

Train Cars (Lake Superior, Michigan)

Have you ever fancied a dive deep into the past, right here in the chilly waters of Lake Superior?

Well, Michigan might just have the hidden underwater adventure you're looking for.

Nestled near the town of Marquette are several railroad cars that took a plunge during a violent storm in the early 1900s.

Imagine that—a piece of history preserved just below the surface!

Discovered by divers in the 1990s, these train cars are like an underwater train museum, minus the gift shop.

If you're an experienced diver, this could be your next dive destination.

Here's a quick rundown of this unexpected treasure:

  • Treasure: Sunken railroad cars
  • Era: Early 1900s
  • Location: Near Marquette, Michigan, in Lake Superior
  • Discovery: 1990s by divers

Before you get your flippers on, remember, Lake Superior isn't your average lake—it's famously cold and can be quite a challenge, even for the most skilled.

But if you're up for it, you'll find these man-made reefs teeming with life.

Fish have made these compartments their home, and the algae-covered metal adds an eerie yet beautiful touch to the scene.

Remember, this isn’t a sunken city from a fantasy novel.

It’s real, tangible history that you can visit.

And who knows, maybe you’ll be the one to uncover something yet to be told about these mysterious train cars.

Just be sure to stay safe, keep warm, and treasure the journey as much as the destination!

Steamboat Arabia (Missouri River, Kansas)

Have you ever imagined finding a buried treasure that's steeped in American history?

The Steamboat Arabia is just that—a 19th-century vessel lying beneath a Kansas field by the Missouri River.

The Arabia was a payload of dreams, carrying 200 tons of precious cargo destined for frontier general stores.

But on September 5, 1856, it met its demise after hitting a snag and sank swiftly.

Fast-forward over a century later to 1988, when a band of modern-day treasure hunters, all amateurs, unearthed this time capsule.

They weren't pirates with a map, but they used metal detectors and dedication to locate the Arabia.

Imagine their delight as they dug up goods perfectly preserved in the Missouri mud!

What's really cool is that you can now visit the Arabia Steamboat Museum in Kansas City, Missouri, and see this sunken treasure for yourself.

The museum showcases a vast collection of pre-Civil War artifacts, all salvaged from the icy grasp of the river.

Here's what you can expect to marvel at:

  • Well-preserved clothing and tools
  • Intact china and jewelry
  • Bottles still sealed with their original contents

Aren't you curious about the life and times these items represent?

A journey to the museum is a trip through time, revealing what the daily grind looked like for our ancestors on the American frontier.

It's nothing short of a freeze-frame on 1856.

So, grab your explorer's hat and set off for a personal encounter with history—touch, see, and even smell the past.

The Arabia's treasures await your discovery!

The Griffin (Lake Michigan)

Have you ever wondered what secrets lie at the bottom of Lake Michigan?

Well, let me take you back to the 17th century to meet the Griffin.

This elusive ship has captured the imaginations of treasure hunters for centuries.


Because it holds the title of being the first European ship to navigate the upper Great Lakes!

Imagine that—a vessel from way back in 1679, loaded with history, just waiting to be rediscovered.

The search for the Griffin has been nothing short of a maritime mystery.

Fast forward to the 2000s, and we've got some treasure hunters making waves with claims of locating her remains.

Using the latest gadgets like sonar and ROVs, they've stirred up a storm of curiosity by pointing to what could be the final resting place of our long-lost Griffin.

But here’s the catch—there's a bit of a debate about the ship's true identity.

Still, just think about it for a second: a ship from over 300 years ago, possibly lying hidden beneath the waves.

Mysterious, right?

What if that was your legacy, just hanging out under the water waiting for someone with a keen eye and some high-tech gear to finally say "Ahoy!" I bet it would send shivers down your spine!

So, keep your eyes peeled next time you're by Lake Michigan—you never know, you might just spot a hint of the Griffin's ghostly sails in the depths!

Remember, it's not just a ship; it's a piece of history that transformed exploration and trade in the Great Lakes!

P-39 Airacobra (Lake Martindale, Alaska)

Hey there, history buff!

Have you heard about the sunken treasure submerged in the icy embrace of Lake Martindale, Alaska?

Guess what?

It's not gold or jewels, but a World War II fighter plane—none other than the legendary P-39 Airacobra.

Imagine stumbling upon a vintage warbird, a fierce relic from turbulent times.

Well, that's exactly what happened in 2007 when a team of eagle-eyed historians and divers, armed with sonar technology, uncovered this beauty hidden in the depths.

Why is it so well-preserved, you ask?

Simple: the cold, fresh waters of Lake Martindale are like a time capsule, safeguarding history.

  • Treasure Unveiled: P-39 Airacobra, a flying machine with a tale.
  • Discovery Date: 2007, a year that became a historic bookmark for aircraft enthusiasts.
  • Preservation: Like a charm, the chilly waters worked their magic, keeping rust at bay.

What's the buzz about the P-39?

At just 22, Lieutenant Ivan Baranovsky, a Soviet Air Force pilot, notched up a tally of seven victories, etching his name in the annals of wartime aviation.

It's quite something, isn't it?

Now, let's talk specs.

The P-39 Airacobra flaunted firepower with machine guns and bomb provisions—a real tough cookie at lower altitudes.

It's a story of design, service, and now—a sunk treasure with an enigmatic aura.

Can you imagine the adrenaline of flying one of these bad boys?

  • Claim to Fame: Revered by the likes of Air Ace Lt. Col. William A. Shomo.
  • Pilots’ Opinion: Below 15,000-feet, it was unmatched, they said.

So there you have it, a piece of history nestled at the bottom of an Alaskan lake, just waiting for curious minds like yours to appreciate its mystique.

Isn't it incredible how a piece of the past can come alive before your very eyes?

SS Kamloops (Lake Superior, Michigan)

Hey there, have you ever heard the haunting tale of the SS Kamloops?

This Canadian steamship met its chilling end in 1927 beneath the icy waves of Lake Superior.

Imagine it silently resting in the deep waters, holding history in its submerged hull.

  • Launched: 1924
  • Sank: December 1927
  • Discovered: August 21, 1977
  • Location: Off Isle Royale, Michigan

Picture this: it's a stormy night on Lake Superior; the waves have no mercy.

The SS Kamloops, along with its fleet mate, the steamer Quedoc, is battling the elements.

Suddenly, a massive wave rises, and amidst the furious storm, the Kamloops is lost.

Until divers stumbled upon it in 1977, it became one of the great mysteries of the lake.

But why should the SS Kamloops intrigue you?

Simply because it's a time capsule lying still underwater.

The preservation of the shipwreck and its contents is astonishing—like a scene frozen in time.

The waters of Lake Superior, chilly and deep, are the perfect conditions for creating an underwater museum where even personal belongings of the crew are eerily intact.

You're probably wondering, what can you see if you dive down there?

The spooky remnants of a once thriving vessel: crusted engine parts, meal plates waiting to be cleared, and the infamous "Old Whitey," the remains of a crew member still haunting his post.

If you're a diving enthusiast or just love unraveling history's secrets, the SS Kamloops is a must-see.

Remember, it's not just a shipwreck; it's a silent storyteller of the unforgiving nature of Lake Superior and the bravery of those who sailed her.

The Lucin Cutoff Train Wreck (Great Salt Lake, Utah)

Have you heard about the watery grave of old train cars beneath the Great Salt Lake?

It's not some tall tale—this is the real deal!

Back in the early 20th century, the Lucin Cutoff was an engineering marvel stretching across the Great Salt Lake, shortening the transcontinental railroad by a staggering 44 miles.

But sometimes, even engineers can't predict Mother Nature's mood swings, and unfortunately, she threw a curveball resulting in a train wreck.

So, what's down there?

  • Train cars that took an unexpected dive during a calamity on the tracks.

How were these submerged treasures found?

  • In the 1990s, divers and historians turned detectives; they put together pieces of history and leveraged sonar technology to pinpoint the location of these long-lost relics.

Picture this: Trains chugging along, minding their business, when suddenly, disaster strikes.

These steel beasts, not meant to swim, found themselves submerged in a salty watery abyss.

Fast forward to the '90s, and guess what?

These train cars become sunken treasures for history buffs and adventure divers alike.

Here’s what they discovered:

  • The site revealed an unexpected slice of railroading history, perfectly preserved in the lake's salty cocoon.

Isn't it incredible how history hides the most astonishing stories right beneath our feet, or in this case, our flippers?

Next time you're near Great Salt Lake, imagine the secrets it keeps, including a reminder of a time when trains dared to traverse the lake's vast expanse.

Now that's some submerged treasure that's truly off the beaten track!

SS Eastland (Lake Michigan, Illinois)

Did you know that beneath the waves of Lake Michigan lies the ghostly remains of the SS Eastland?

This former passenger ship met its tragic end in the Chicago River back in 1915.

Imagine boarding a ship for a fun company picnic, only to be part of one of the Great Lakes' worst maritime disasters.

That's exactly what happened on the Eastland.

She was supposed to be a vessel of leisure but became a sunken treasure instead. 844 passengers and crew lost their lives that fateful day, more than many other shipwrecks on the Great Lakes.

Here’s a fascinating fact: it was the Seamen’s Act, intended for safety after the Titanic tragedy, that indirectly doomed the ship.

The law demanded more lifeboats, making the already top-heavy Eastland even more unstable.

As a result, she rolled over while still docked, causing a heartbreaking loss of life.

Discovery Time!

Divers today can explore parts of the Eastland wreck, although she was quickly salvaged after the disaster.

Imagine the stories locked within its aged frame, resting silently in the cold lake waters.

  • Where: Chicago River, Illinois
  • When: Disaster in 1915
  • What: Sunken passenger ship
  • Death Toll: 844 people

The Eastland's story is a chilling reminder of how quickly joy can turn to sorrow.

Sure, it’s no hidden treasure chest of gold, but it’s a historical treasure in its own right, wouldn’t you agree?

So, if you ever find yourself diving into Lake Michigan's depths, pay a silent tribute to the souls lost aboard the SS Eastland.

Lake Murray B-25 (Lake Murray, South Carolina)

Have you heard about the warbird sleeping beneath the waves of Lake Murray?

Picture this: a World War II B-25 bomber on a training mission, just like the ones you've seen in old war movies.

It's 1943, and the plane is dancing above “Bomb Island,” a site teeming with military history.

But something goes wrong, and the aircraft meets its watery grave.

Fast forward 62 years to 2005, when our submerged treasure is found using sonar technology and the efforts of specialized divers.

Here's what went down:

  • Discovery: Found in 2005
  • Rescue Operation: Aviation salvage experts brought it back to the surface
  • Current Home: On display for history buffs like you and me

Imagine being one of the divers weaving through the deep, their bubbles spiraling upward, as they approach the ghostly form of the B-25.

It was resting some 150 feet beneath the surface, undisturbed for decades, waiting for its story to be told.

The recovery must've been like unwrapping a history-laden present, bit by bit, in the depths of those murky waters.

What's really cool is how this bomber's tale didn't end with its recovery.

Now it serves as a tangible link to our past, displayed for all to see.

The history channel even featured it; talk about prime time!

Are you now imagining what other secrets Lake Murray might be keeping?

It's fascinating how bodies of water can be silent guardians of history, don't you think?