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Beam in search for shipwreck retrieved

– Divers and scientists who combed a section of northern Lake Michigan for a 17th-century shipwreck have retrieved a wooden beam that could belong to the long-lost Griffin, expedition leaders said Wednesday.

The nearly 20-foot-long timber, about half of which protruded from the lake bed until dislodged last week as searchers dug beneath it, may hold the key to whether shipwreck hunter Steve Libert has discovered the remains of the mysterious vessel commanded by French explorer Rene Robert Cavelier de la Salle.

It disappeared in 1679 after casting off from an island near Green Bay with a crew of six and a cargo of furs. It was the first ship of European design to traverse the upper Great Lakes.

Libert’s team removed it from the lake Saturday but waited to announce it until arrangements for its safekeeping were completed, said Ken Vrana, the expedition’s project manager.

Crews lifted the heavy object onto a commercial fishing boat and hauled it to shore, then loaded it into a refrigerated truck for transport to a safe location.

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