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100-year-old wreck of Henry B. Smith found

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Henry B. Smith
An image provided by Jerry Eliason shows a portion of a ship's name on a wreck discovered recently in Lake Superior. The image made June 24, 2013, confirms the shipwreck found more than 500 feet down in Lake Superior is the long-lost freighter Henry B. Smith that sank in 1913.
AP Photo/Kraig Smith and Jerry Eliason

A few months shy of the 100th anniversary of the ship's disappearance on Lake Superior, shipwreck hunters say they have identified the lost freighter S S Henry B. Smith.

They were able to take video that shows the name of the ship in two different places. Jerry Eliason of Cloquet said he and search partner Craig Smith had long searched for a shipwreck as significant as the Henry B. Smith.

"We had a 13-year dry spell where we never found a wreck," Eliason said. "We'd go out 12 - 15 days a year and that went on for 13 years and we still kept doing it."

The Henry B. Smith left a Michigan port loaded with iron ore and a crew of 25 when it was caught in a storm Nov. 10, 1913. The wreck is under more than 500 feet of water about 30 miles from Marquette, Mich. 

Eliason took the lead on the research, and developed underwater photo and video technology which helped searchers spot the ship's name on the bow and stern.

Eliason, on MPR News' All Things Considered described to host Tom Crann the appeal of finding a wreck.

"It's solving the mystery of what happened and where it happened. You know, just being able to connect with history," he said.

Eliason said he came across data that helped identify possible locations for the wreck. He declined to give more detail of exactly how he found it but said "the Freedom of Information Act was very helpful." 

Eliason hasn't physically searched for wrecks underwater since a dive accident in 1989.