Jaredite Barge Found in Lake Michigan

MYTH: Jaredite Barge found in Lake Michigan


On January 25, 1999, some members of the Mormon community became prematurely excited when a large, wooden, boat-like object was discovered at the bottom of Lake Michigan. The Chicago Tribune published the following description:

If one set out with the preposterous goal of making an oak zeppelin 31 feet long, 10 feet in diameter, pointed at its ends, complete with an 18-inch hatch to crawl inside, this is pretty much what they'd get. Those who have strapped on air tanks and visited the thing say the craftsmanship used to build it is remarkable--four-inch-thick oak boards bent and fitted together and caulked watertight, like nothing built today.

A CNN article described the boat-like object as “an oak construction the size of a bus and shaped like a zeppelin.[1]

Excited by the discovery, many LDS readers were quick to suspend logic and identify the object as a "Jaredite barge" and myth-creating messages were circulated wildly around the Internet claiming that proof of the Book of Mormon had been discovered, and in our own backyard!
During the fervor following the discovery, some of the more skeptical readers began to ask how a wooden barge would have survived at the bottom of a lake for more than 3,000 years. And what was it doing in Lake Michigan anyway?[2]

But then on February 8, 1999 the Chicago Tribune reported:

Archeological divers hoping to identify a mysterious, bus-sizewooden object submerged near the Chicago River locks now know what itis… A floating fuel tank.[3]

Built as a prototype in 1942 by Ukrainian immigrant Mike Tym, it was designed "to reduce losses of shipping from torpedoing, bombing and shelling,"[4] The tank was to be towed by boats. But despite successful testing, the prototype never went into full production, and mysteriously ended up at the bottom of Lake Michigan.

[1] CNN, “'Monster' in Lake Michigan is manmade, but just as mysterious” January 26, 1999, Web posted at: 2:48 p.m. EST (1948 GMT)
[2] “Out of the Dust” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies: Volume - 8, Issue – 1, Provo, Utah: Maxwell Institute, 1999
[3] Chicago Tribune, “Answers Surface For Lake Enigma” Peter Kendall, 2/8/1999
[4] Ibid

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