Silver discovered in 100-year-old Lake Zurich shipwreck

Silver discovered in 100-year-old Lake Zurich shipwreck

While we often enjoy sunbathing on its banks and swimming in its depths, most don’t think of Lake Zurich as a haven for shipwrecks and buried treasure. However, a recent discovery under the waves near Richterswil may bring the Caribbean and the Swiss lake closer together: divers have found 35 kilos of silver in the wreck of an old transport ship.

Wreck of a Ledi cargo ship discovered near Richterswil

According to a recent report from the Tages-Anzeiger, the story starts in 2005, when a professional fisherman discovered the wreck of a 100-year-old cargo ship after the sunken vessel got caught on an anchor. The wreck was soon identified as a sailing “Ledi” - old ships that were used to transport goods up and down the lake in the times before motor power.

However, because of fuel shortages caused by the First World War, the now dilapidated ships were brought back into service and continued to be used in and around Zurich into the 1920s - when the ship was likely sunk. Soon after his discovery, the fisherman chose to inform a friend of his at the Swiss Archeodivers Association.

However, before the find could go any further, a boating accident meant the fisherman was rushed to hospital, and the GPS with the wreck’s coordinates were lost. It would take until 2023 to rediscover the wreck, and it wasn’t long before the association sent divers down the 25 metres to investigate the sunken Ledi.

Divers discover beer, slag and silver on Lake Zurich wreck

Through the dives, experts concluded that the ship had been carrying 70 tons of slag from ballast furnaces when it sank. Upon further analysis, they concluded that the slag contained 35 kilograms of silver worth approximately 23.000 Swiss francs. 

They were also able to determine that beer was the most likely reason why the boat sank. Along with the slag, the Ledi had also been carrying 10 tons of Wädenswil beer, meaning it was heavily overloaded - you are still able to have the same beer if you visit Wädenswil today.

However, before we all don our dry suits and converge on the wreck in a scene reminiscent of Thunderball, diver Adelrich Uhr told the Tages-Anzeiger that the booty would likely remain at the bottom of the lake, as the 35 kilos of silver is within the 70 tons of slag. He concluded that while the silver may be profitable on land, the process of having to take all the slag to the surface for processing means it would not be a profitable venture, even for the boldest Buccaneers.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Editor for Switzerland at IamExpat Media. Jan studied History at the University of York and Broadcast Journalism at the University of Sheffield. Though born in York, Jan has lived most...

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