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DULUTH — Researchers have uncovered the remains of a bulk freighter that sank after it was gouged by a ship nearly twice its size a century ago — on a night when Lake Superior was blanketed with dense fog and smoke from northern forest fires.

The port side bow of the Cetus rammed into the port side of the Huronton, creating a 25-foot gash and quickly dropping the vessel into the depths of Lake Superior on Oct. 11, 1923. It lay there undisturbed until recently.

Researchers from the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society this past August saw a sliver, seemingly the size of a thread, caught in an 800-foot deep hole near Whitefish Point on the east end of Lake Superior — just 3 miles from where the Edmund Fitzgerald was found.

The group, which likes to publicly share their discoveries on the anniversary of a wreck, announced the find Wednesday, exactly a century later.

They quickly found the massive break in the steamer as they circled the vessel with underwater cameras.

"Collision," said Darryl Ertel, the historical society's director of marine operations, as he brought the remote operated vehicle [ROV] up on the point where the ship broke in half. "It's a big tear in the side."

Ertel, whose footage is recorded, moved the ROV the length of the ship, cruising past the bow cabins and the broken mast, and finding an anchor buried in the ground. Here and there, aquatic life had taken over.

"The rusted relics like this, you never see the name," he is heard saying in a video of the search. The name is never visible in the video, but bits of black paint that might have once identified the vessel remain.

Huronton, its hole temporarily plugged by the other ship, stayed above water just long enough for the crew of 17 to get aboard Cetus — and for the first mate to double back aboard the doomed vessel for the crew's pet bulldog. The dog, along with the captain's papers, were the only things that were saved, according to the Oct. 12, 1923, edition of the Sault Ste. Marie Evening News.

On the day of the crash, Cetus removed its bow from the cargo-less Huronton, and before it was 100 feet away "decks began to crumble," according to news reports at the time, then it dropped stern-first into the depths.

It completely sank in 18 minutes, 23 miles northwest of Whitefish Point. The Huronton had been headed northwest; the Cetus headed southeast at the time of impact. Speed and low visibility were factors.

"Forest fires in the north country during the past few days have spread a smoke which coupled with the fog forms a screen which greatly imperils lake traffic," the Detroit Times reported at the time. "It is estimated that fully 50 lake freighters are tied up in St. Mary's River."

Huronton's crew — some who had been sleeping at the time of impact — was rescued by the tug Iowa. The Cetus, carrying ore, was patched with canvas and limped along until it could be repaired. Its hole was above the water line.

Even at the time, news reports indicated that it wasn't clear where the Huronton went down.

The Huronton was a Canada-based vessel that was built in Lorain, Ohio, in 1898 and was a Matthews Steamship Co., ship based in Canada when it sank, according to records provided by the historical society.

"Had the Cetus pulled away from our boat as soon as the collision occurred, we would never have had time to lower our life boats," Capt. Webb Beatty told reporters at the time. "Despite the fact that food was low on the Cetus, all my men were given meals. When we were last served breakfast today, the last of the grub was used."