In 1854, the Westmoreland, a passenger steamer, was en route to Milwaukee from Chicago. On board were 34 passengers plus the crew aboard. The journey was going smoothly until the weather took a turn for the worse, and the Westmoreland began to take on water.

Despite the crew’s and passengers’ efforts, the ship eventually capsized and sank to the bottom of Lake Michigan, taking a valuable cargo of goods with it.

Over 170 years later, the wreckage of the Westmoreland was discovered by a group of divers, who were shocked to find that the ship was still intact, with many of its treasures still preserved. Here are some of the treasures that sank with Westmoreland in Lake Michigan.

BusinessToday/ Stock Image | Westmoreland wreckage was discovered 200feet below the surface of Platte Bay

The Cargo

The Westmoreland was carrying a vast array of goods, including farm equipment, barrels of flour, barrels of pork, barrels of apples, barrels of butter, barrels of lard, sacks of potatoes, and even a piano. Much of the cargo is still intact and in remarkably good condition considering its long time underwater.

The Gold

One of the most valuable items on board the Westmoreland was a shipment of gold transported by a group of banks in Chicago. The exact amount of gold is unknown, but it is believed to be worth millions. The gold is still on the ship and has never been recovered.

The Historical Significance

The Westmoreland was not only carrying valuable cargo, but it was also a significant piece of history. The ship was built in 1837 and was one of the first steamships on Lake Michigan.

It played an important role in the development of the region, and its loss was felt by many. The discovery of the wreckage has shed new light on the area’s history and has allowed researchers to learn more about the early days of steamship travel.

WRKR/ Pinterest | The older the whiskey, the better

Whiskey Worth Millions

Westmoreland carried much American whiskey when it sank in Lake Michigan. The whiskey was believed to be from the E.H. Taylor Distillery, one of the largest and most respected distilleries in the United States during the mid-19th century.

The whiskey was transported from Milwaukee to Buffalo when the Westmoreland encountered rough waters and sank. This whiskey is particularly interesting to collectors and historians because it provides a glimpse into the early days of American whiskey production.

At the time of the Westmoreland’s sinking, American whiskey began gaining popularity and was not yet widely available outside the United States. The whiskey on the Westmoreland is believed to be some of the earliest American whiskey exported.

William Grant/ Getty Images | The 1950s saw a surge in the popularity of lower proof blended whiskey

The Tourism Potential

The discovery of the Westmoreland wreckage has also sparked interest in the area as a tourist destination. Lake Michigan is home to dozens of shipwrecks, and the Westmoreland is just one of many that can be explored by divers.

The wreckage has also been a popular attraction for glass-bottom boat tours, which allow visitors to view the sunken ship without disturbing the site.