These Mysterious Wrecks Are At The Bottom Of The Deepest Lake In Iowa
The deepest lake in Iowa has some mysteries at the bottom of it.
West Lake Okoboji is the deepest natural lake in Iowa, plunging 136 ft. deep. It's a glacial lake that was made by the Wisconsin Glacier 14,000 years ago.
But since then, the lake has played host to some curious wrecks, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Here are the stories of a few wrecks that rest at the bottom of West Lake Okoboji now.
The Lost Sailboat
The Lost Sailboat wreck is 52 feet below off of Sunset Beach. As you can see it's decaying. The odd part: there are no records of a sailboat lost in the area. It's unknown what happened to the sailboat's crew.
The Exploding Hazel Dell
On July 1st, 1927, a little after 9:00 p.m., there was a big boom at Smith's Bay. Hazel Dell, which was a private launch owned by Leon Voorhees, had caught fire and exploded. Earlier in the day he had replaced a gas line leak on the launch then that night he took his wife, daughter, and friends on the boat. Gasoline was ignited and the boat exploded.
Miraculously though, all six aboard were saved. The boat burned to the waterline and sank near Des Moines Beach and is also at the bottom of the lake, unable to be retrieved.
The Truck In The Lake
A 1935 Ford truck is at the bottom of Smith's Bay. It was used for ice harvesting but it fell into the water in 1948.
The Deadly Wreck of Miss Thriller
Miss Thriller was returning to the docks at Arnold's Park on July 28, 1929 with 17 people aboard when it was hit by another passenger boat called Zipper. Nine people that were aboard Miss Thriller died. The boat is over a half-mile away from Dixon Beach and sits in 60 feet deep water. It was recovered but there's mystery surrounding what happened to its hull. Some say it was put on exhibit at carnivals, others say that a grieving parent doused it in gasoline and burned it up. There's not a written account to confirm either.
No. 30's Wreck and Recovery
Right before midnight on July 19th, 1946, a speedboat called No. 30 was hit by another boat called Isabel II. The No. 30 sank quickly into 60 ft. of water right beyond the reef northeast of Gull Point. Unlike other wrecks on the lake, this one was able to be recovered. In 1995 it was found and it now sits in the Iowa Great Lakes Maritime Museum in Arnold's Park.
The Hafer Wreck Mystery
The Hafer was a cedar-strip runabout boat that caught fire and sank at some point in the 20's. News accounts of what happened are nowhere to be found. It is sunk off of Atwell Point.
To read more about the wrecks on West Lake Okoboji, check out Iowa DNR's "Exploring the Hidden Okoboji".