Nearly 150 years ago, Seneca Lake was a major shipping route for goods because of its connection to the old Seneca River, which later was part of the state canal system.
However, not all vessels successfully made the trip up or down the largest and deepest of the 11 Finger Lakes.
A group of researchers from the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in Vermont — using sonar and other equipment — has located 17 shipwrecks on the bottom of the lake, most dating to the 1880s.
In 2018, researchers from the maritime museum organized a limited, submerged cultural resources survey with the objective of finding a coal-laden canal boat, the Frank Bowley, that sank in Seneca Lake in 1869. A dramatic and detailed account of the sinking during heavy November winds was reported in the newspapers of the day. The stories included very specific geographic locations where the ship went down.
The researchers found the Frank Bowley on the first day of their side scan sonar survey. It was intact and still loaded with its cargo of coal in the deep waters of Seneca Lake.