The Gypsy Queen

The Gypsy Queen

Lake Unions Hidden Treasures

When people think of Seattle, the first things that come to mind are often the Space Needle, Mt. Rainier, and Pike’s Place Market. Though beautiful and worth being appreciated, these wonders typically don’t hold a place in the everyday lives of Seattleites. Locals would tell you that the true beauty and value of living in Seattle comes from the three breathtaking waterways that envelop the city: Lake Union, Lake Washington, and the Puget Sound. Offering more than just a gorgeous view, these lakes and bays facilitate hundreds of recreational activities and contribute to the booming fishing industry. With its distinct and bizarre position nestled within the city, Lake Union specifically creates opportunities for fun times to be had. 

Lake Union offers the perfect outlet to the tension and fast pace of life in the city. 580 acres of freshwater combined with a little bit of sunshine create endless possibilities for kayaking, swimming, and sailing. Every summer, hundreds flock to this gorgeous lake to relax and enjoy the enchanting nature of the Pacific Northwest. Unbeknown to locals and tourists alike is a fleet of sunken ships that rest just 30 feet below the surface of the lake. Nicknamed Lake Union’s Graveyard, each boat holds a mysterious history that has been kept secret for decades. 

The Gypsy Queen

One of these ships, the Gypsy Queen, was a WWII Naval ship, a minesweeper, proving to be indispensable in the Allies’ victory. The Gypsy Queen, formally known as YMS 105, was part of the Eastern Sea Frontier, a tactical operation that was considered by some the “parent” of all frontiers in WWII. Nothing happened by the way of naval action without the aid of the minesweeper. After years of serving her country, the Gypsy Queen was intended to be transfigured into a boat that would facilitate fish processing, but instead was abandoned to the depths of Lake Union where she sat in complete secrecy for many years. More diving expeditions have uncovered 75 shipwrecks that make up this graveyard, with ships that were used for incredible tasks such as the minesweeper mentioned above, as well as shrimp boats and transport vessels. Maritime researchers from the Maritime Documentation Society, a group that works to explore and document historic shipwrecks, have been able to identify 25 of the ships that are submerged at the bottom of the lake, effectively uncovering their secrets and learning more about Seattle’s past. It is now believed that ship captains of the past would secretly sink their ships in order to avoid the fees and work associated with moving a vessel that they no longer needed out of Lake Union. 

“It is not known (yet) when the Queen sank in Lake Union but now it sits in 40 feet of water at the south end of Lake Union, sitting upright, as it would have been in her mooring, as if ready for someone to take her on her final voyage, not knowing that that final trip has come and gone.” 

Tied tightly to the culture and history of Seattle, Lake Union is one of its most treasured possessions; above the piles of sunken watercraft, you will find people who take full advantage of the cool water and picturesque views that are a part of this lake. Though countless people fly over Lake Union every day, drive past it on their morning commute, and spend endless days sailing around its shores, very few are aware of the mysterious vessels that lay hidden on the bottom of the lakebed.  

Fulcrum Café located on 6th and Bell is a part of the South Lake Union neighborhood. Check it out for amazing views of the space needle, less than a 10-minute walk to Pikes Place, and some incredible coffee.  

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