The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI), May 26, 1896

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Dunkirk Man Thinks the Richmond Hull Might be Seen from a Balloon

The recent discovery of wreckage by the fishing tug Seabird in the track wherein it has been supposed the wreck of the steamer Dean Richmond will be found, if ever discovered, and which has again raised hope in the minds of the owners and of the friends of the dead supposed to be with the hull, has not yet been sufficiently investigated to make it known if the supposed finding will prove another disappointment. A Dunkirk man, in view of the many disappointments which have already occurred and which are still likely to happen and also considering the considerable expenditure already incurred in sweeping in vain a large section of the waters of the lake, suggests the use of a balloon as likely to prove a very satisfactory way out of the difficulty and one which may become useful and popular in the future, and which might as well be used for the discovery of the Dean Richmond as its initial work on Lake Erie. In this connection he mentions the fact, said to be well known to aeronauts, although not generally understood by others, that the bottom of the ocean can be seen from a considerable height, although it is not possible to see it from a boat on the surface of the water. A Russian staff officer named Kavanjko has given some proof to this. Among the following instances are quoted in this relation: "August 21, 1876, Messengers Moret and Dufaure, of Cherbourg, made an ascension in a balloon to a hight of 1,700 meters and discovered to their astonishment that they could see the bottom of the ocean in the British Channel so plainly that although the water was from 60 to 80 meters deep, they could have made a chart of it. Gen. Kavanjko himself had the opportunity to see from a balloon the bottom of Lake Ladoga and other lakes, and states that the bottom of these waters was seen from the hight of 300 meters so plainly that he noted areas where vessels might be stranded.

"It is said that when the sky is clear and sun at meridian it is easier to make observations. The explanation given of this singular phenomenon is that the wave movement interferes with the transparency of the water by causing the sun's rays to be reflected by a mirror-like surface at different angles and to thereby hinder the sight from fathoming the depth, while ascending above the water surface until the motion of the water is lost sight of to such an extent that it will not hinder the eye from penetrating it, the visual line strikes the surface more nearly if not quite at right angles and the rays of light are reflected from the ocean bottom instead of from a broken mirror-like surface, and unhindered reach the eye of the observer. Other satisfactory trials for observing the bottom were also mentioned."

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May 26, 1896
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Dave Swayze
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI), May 26, 1896