Love to walk along Lake Michigan in search of Northern Michigan treasures after a storm? Starting this month, don’t stop at stones and bits of beach glass; keep your eyes peeled for the chance to discover a shipwreck, too. About once a year, late autumn’s blustery weather brings a Great Lakes shipwreck back to the surface.

“A particularly big storm can actually lift up a wreck and bring it into shallower water, or it can scour out the sand that had been covering a wreck,” says Valerie van Heest, director of the Michigan Shipwreck Research Association. “We usually hear about it when we get a call from a lakefront homeowner who says, ‘Hey, there’s a hunk of ship in my yard!’”

With some 500 shallow-water shipwrecks still buried just off Lake Michigan’s eastern edge, there’s a chance your next Northern Michigan shoreline stroll might yield a surprise. Just don’t be tempted to carry a small piece back home with your other beach treasures. “When a wreck becomes exposed, we get a small window of time to look into the past,” van Heest says. “These are natural museums; it’s best to just look and leave them.”

Find out all about the found and not-yet-found shipwrecks along the Michigan shoreline at the Michigan Shipwreck Research Association.

Get the best of Northern Michigan delivered to your door each month with Traverse, Northern Michigan’s MagazineSubscribe today!