Considered the first European Ship constructed in America, "Le Griffon" (The Griffin), was constructed under commission of French Explorer Robert LaSalle. Built under the hopes of finding a shorter route to The Pacific Ocean (and opening trade with Japan), LaSalle (as did other Explorers), miscalculated the sheer size of the "supposed" New World. Unable to find the much sought after route, LaSalle still discovered The Great Lakes and it's all important river routes which would not only open extensive trade with Native American (with regards to Beaver - for their pelts), but would open a new expansion of future Colonies in America and Canada. The " Le Griffon" was constructed out of regional woods, and was in the style of a traditional Barque. Weighing 45 tons displaced, she was 40 feet long and stood 15 feet tall.
The "Griffon" featured twin Main Masts, configured in a standard Square Rig (sail). Constructed on the conjuction of The Cayuga Creek and The Niagara River, she explored The Hudson, Erie and Michigan portions of what would become The Great Lakes. Launched on August 3, 1678 with 32 men, LaSalle and the majority of his crew disembarked after 3 weeks back near their Camp, and sent "Griffin" and 6 crewmen (plus a Cargo hold full of Beaver pelts), back out. The "Griffon" was never heard from again. This created an enduring mystery among Historians as to her fate. Some say poor navigation caused her to sink at an unknown location, with probable loss of life of all the crew.
If any did escape and swim to shore, they more than likely died at the hands of hostile Native Americans. Hundreds of years have passed with many people claiming to have "discovered " her wreck. Definate proof was said to have been found in 2004 (but this was wrong). The most recent claim was in 2012, when two amateur Divers say they have found the elusive "Griffon". They refuse to release information, until they are ready (claiming to be protecting the wreck from rivals). This led France to file a claim of ownership of "Le Griffon" as property of their Nation. The story still continues.