Built by explorer Rene Robert Cavilier, Sieur de la Salle, the Griffon was intended to assist La Salle in increasing his fortune by transporting large numbers of furs from the Great Lakes to points east. On its initial journey, la Salle and his crew successfully navigated the Great Lakes, landing at Green Bay, Wisconsin. La Salle continued overland to the Mississippi River and ordered his crew to sail the Griffon back to Niagara, New York. The Griffon was never heard from again and never found, but historians speculate that the Griffon was driven ashore by gale winds on Lake Huron and broke apart. The Griffon holds the dubious distinction as both the first vessel to reach the upper Great Lakes and its first shipwreck.
For more information on other Great Lakes disasters, see Shipwrecks of the Great Lakes by Paul Hancock.
LaSalle’s Griffon by Elise Dallaire.
Michigan Historical Calendar, courtesy of the Clarke Historical Library at Central Michigan University.
Sarah Kramer, Bryce Gray, Lizz Giordano, and Anne Arntson, “The White Whale for Great Lakes Shipwreck Hunters“, Atlas Obscura, May 30, 2017.
Chris Kohl, “The Wreck of the Griffon“. Cris Kohl, author of The Wreck of The Griffon, discusses where he believes the shipwreck is.