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Detroit River is a Graveyard of Artifacts

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The city of Detroit, Michigan, was founded in 1701, and the river outside its door has been a dumping ground since. The riverbed is littered with centuries’ worth of artifacts, including war cannons, old wooden ships, automobiles, and hundreds of firearms ranging from wooden muskets to automatic handguns.

After a side scan sonar revealed two automobiles, Matt Zuidema, a scuba instructor with 25 years of experience, decided to dive the highly restricted area at Caron Avenue, Windsor across the river from Detroit (with permission) and recently discovered two old cars covered in zebra mussels, one of which he believes is a 1940s sedan. The other is upside down. He believes the other is a late 1950s Thunderbird, but he admits he is not a car expert and would need 100% confirmation on the make of the cars.

Sea to Sky

The Detroit River is about 2,400 feet wide and has depths ranging from 35 to 50 feet. The deepest areas are found near the Ambassador Bridge, where the river narrows to a width of about 1,900 feet for about 1-1/2 miles.

Across from Detroit (and on the Detroit River) is Windsor, Ontario, which is known for being a major contributor to Canada’s automotive industry and is very culturally diverse. Windsor is known as the “Automotive Capital of Canada,” and its industrial and manufacturing heritage has shaped how the city has evolved over time.

Due to the strong undertow and current, swimming/scuba diving in the Detroit River is extremely dangerous. A Detroit city ordinance prohibits the public from diving in the river within city limits for safety reasons, and it is also suspected that criminal evidence could be present underwater. When diving outside the restricted area, underwater visibility ranges from about 8 feet to not being able to see your hand in front of your face. The river moves at about 5 knots (5.75 mph) at the surface (5.75 mph). Even experienced divers should avoid diving in the Detroit River. (although many probably do to find the treasures underwater) The river has a calm bottom, a swift top layer, and an even swifter middle layer.

There is much underwater history to be discovered on the Canadian/Windsor side, but diving there requires a federal permit.

Any object(s) discovered in the water must be reported to the port authority.


La Galigo

About Author

Kathy is the owner of Kirk Scuba Gear, a passionate Scuba Diver, Ocean Advocate and Managing Editor of The Scuba News Canada

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  1. Pingback: Restoring Beneficial Uses with the Detroit River Canadian Cleanup - Go Scuba Diving Bahamas

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