Lost and Found: Shipwrecks of West Michigan

Lost and FoundGraphic-235

Dates, Location

Author: Valerie van Heest

Dozens of shipwrecks rest in the cold, clear water just off the shores of West Michigan in a nearly timeless state of preservation. Explore wrecks that span the history of shipping on Lake Michigan with Valerie van Heest, local shipwreck hunter, award winning author, and member of the Women Divers Hall of Fame.

Valerie van Heest has been involved in shipwreck exploration and documentation for 20 years. She is a 2007 recipient of the Historical Society of Michigan award for excellence of achievement in the collection, preservation and promotion of state and local history.


Valerie has written extensively for a variety of magazines and has won a State History Award for her first young reader's book, ICEBOUND! The Adventures of Young George Sheldon and the SS Michigan. She is co-author with William Lafferty of the newly released book, Buckets and Belt, also winner of a State History Award. In addition she has written and directed more than a dozen documentary films and has appeared on major television news networks as well as the Discovery Channel.  She is a regular presenter at museums, libraries, and film festivals sharing  the dramatic stories of ships gone missing on the Great Lakes. Her work has been featured in the book, Voices of the Sweetwater Seas by Bill Keefe and Shipwreck Hunter by Gerry Volgenau. 

Valerie spearheads MSRA's search for ships lost off Western Michigan which has resulted in the discovery of thirteen new shipwrecks.  In one of many expeditions, Valerie and MSRA have worked with Clive Cussler’s NUMA team in search of Northwest Flight 2501, a DC-4 that crashed into Lake Michigan in 1950.  Valerie is a partner of Lafferty van Heest & Associates, an exhibit design firm and serves in a volunteer capacity as a director of the non-profit Michigan Shipwreck.