On Aug. 12, 1962, after obtaining permission from various nautical organizations including the U.S. Coast Guard, an 1,870-pound white marble cross sculpted in Italy was lowered 65 feet into Little Traverse Bay as a memorial to all who had lost their lives in the Great Lakes. Around 1,200 people attended the dedication, according to Emmet County Sheriff’s deputy Dennis Jessick.
Originally constructed in memory of a young man who passed away on a farm on the east side of the state, the marble crucifix arrived in Michigan severely cracked. After the original buyers refused delivery, the cross sat behind a Bad Axe-area church for the winter.
The following spring, a local group purchased the crucifix for $50 at an insurance sale, and invested another $900 to fix the damage, before lowering the crucifix into Lake Michigan as a memorial.
Unfortunately for divers and would-be visitors, time was not kind to the memorial. Within two decades, the memorial was buried, prompting divers to attempt to raise the crucifix from the depths in 1985.
Following a night on shore, the monument was then relocated to its new site in the bay, after Jessick volunteered the sheriff department’s boat to tow both the crucifix .
During both dedications, Jessick said structural problems with the memorial arose.
On the initial dive in the 1960’s, Jessick said divers mistakenly broke the crucifix’s right arm, which was kept by the family of one of the divers for several years before being reattached.
Upon attempting to relocate the marble memorial in 1985, divers mistakenly lost control of the cross, resulting in the left arm cracking, Jessick noted.
Repairs were recently made again.
For the full article, see R. J. Wolcott, “Underwater crucifix in frozen Lake Michigan displayed as memorial”, MLive, March 4, 2015.
Ann Zaniewski, “Rare Chance to See Underwater Crucifix in Lake Michigan“, Detroit Free Press, March 8, 2019.