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DULUTH — In the final moments before the Arlington sank into the waves during a spring storm on Lake Superior, its crew, safely aboard another ship, watched as their captain, Frederick "Tatey Bug" Burke, stood alone near the pilothouse on the doomed freighter.

He reportedly waved — then went down with the ship.

Researchers recently discovered the wreck of the Arlington, which sank on May 1, 1940, more than 600 feet deep in Lake Superior, about 35 miles from Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula. The lead came from lifelong shipwreck historian Dan Fountain, who has been interested in what lies beneath Lake Superior since he found ship remains near his family's cabin in Michigan's Upper Peninsula when he was a kid.

Using remote sensing data, Fountain found an anomaly on the lake floor that he believed was a wreck. He took his findings to his colleagues at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society in Whitefish Point, Mich. This past July, a crew that included the historical society's marine operations director Darryl Ertel traveled nearly three hours across Lake Superior to the site, then used sonar to find that Fountain was right.

Video from the remote operating vehicle (ROV) shows the long-buried ship and its debris. White letters barely visible beneath the rust revealed the ship's name: Arlington.

"It was exciting," said Fountain. "These guys are experienced — there wasn't a lot of whooping and hollering, but there were big smiles."

It is illegal to collect artifacts from shipwreck sites. These researchers navigate the wrecks of Lake Superior with an eye toward taking photographs and video — and leaving no more of a trace than the wake from an ROV, according to Corey Adkins of the historical society. After a discovery, the team researches the details of the wreck, including the weather conditions and who was onboard.

"We tell the stories through documentaries," Adkins said.

The Arlington, a 244-foot bulk carrier, left Thunder Bay, Ontario, loaded with wheat and bound for Owen Sound, Ontario. A dense fog developed that night, before the lake turned stormy. The Arlington had an advanced navigation system, so the Collingwood, a larger vessel headed in the same direction, stayed close.

Burke was reportedly acting strangely. Despite the storm, he spent much of the time in his bunk. The Arlington's first mate, Junis Macksey ordered the crew to hug the Canadian north shore to avoid wind and waves. Burke came out of his cabin to overrule him — the Arlington would continue on course across the open lake.

Burke was a big guy with a big personality, according to the book "Steamboats, Sawlogs and Salvage: The Story of the Burke Family and Their Near Relatives," by R. Patrick Smith. He loved pool and practical jokes, and played both at the same time. A speech impediment led to his nickname. He was called "Teddy" as a child, which sounded like "Tatey Bug" when he said it.

He had experience with wrecks — and heroic feats.

On a foggy October night in 1924, Burke was the captain of the Glenorchy when it collided with the Leonard B. Miller on Lake Huron. Most of the Glenorchy crew was able to get aboard the larger vessel before it sank, except for two men trapped in crushed cabins. Burke doubled back with a fire axe and saved both men, including a watchman who had broken his leg.

In later years, Burke joined Burke Towing & Salvage, the company owned by his brothers Ed and Dave Burke. He was known to be fiery, but he was also known for his stellar navigational skills. Something was amiss with him on the the night of the wreck, the remaining crew of more than a dozen would later report. When the Arlington began to sink, the chief engineer sounded an alarm. The crew members, without orders from Burke, ditched out for the safety of the Collingwood.

The captain's body was never found; His final moments remain a mystery. The rest of the crew survived.

"[Burke's] last commands were large steel vessels," Fountain said. "The Arlington was relatively small. He could've had more confidence that was justified to go on into the storm."

The author Smith's hypothesis is that Burke's indecisiveness that night and his reported mumblings were the effects of a medical emergency.

Lake floor anomalies do not always lead to a shipwreck, Fountain said. In the past decade, he's had dozens turn out to be fruitless. He didn't want his friends from the historical society to put in the time all for nothing. So he was happy to hang his hat on this find — and expects to double back to the site of the Arlington for further exploration.

"It was a sigh of relief," he said.