Deep cover

Treasure troves lurk in Lake Michigan-if you know where to look.

Nothing keeps a secret like water, and Chicago’s got wet legends as large as Lake Michigan. There’s one about the hillocks of handguns that rest on the lake bed, dumped there in the 1920s after being confiscated by the Chicago Police Department. Chris Kennedy of the CPD’s Marine/Helicopter Unit confirms their existence but doesn’t know where they’re located. Local scuba-diving guide Clive Basson ( claims to know exactly where they are. Of course, they’re property of the state—a state where the possession of an unlicensed handgun (even a watery one) is illegal—and Basson won’t let you disturb them, so don’t bother asking.

Historian for the Department of Cultural Affairs Tim Samuelson will tell you where the brick-and-mortar land shaft is—piercing two miles into the drink from Chicago Avenue. You’re welcome to inspect the water-transporting tunnel, called “the wonder of America and the world” when constructed during the Civil War, if you can make it 60 feet below the lake’s floor.

Easier to access is the reef created in 1999 when bulldozers atop a barge plowed 4,500 tons of granite—formerly part of UIC’s campus—into the lake 1.4 miles off 57th Street. The detritus forms a submerged shelter that now lures smallmouth and rock bass—in addition to divers and anglers.

We could direct you to the tiny island in Lake Michigan on which paddlers gather to drink beer and rest weary arms, but first we’d have to convince oarsman Dave Olson ( to tell us where it’s located. The thing with secrets is, those who know them don’t willingly give them up.

This much is certain: There’s a great deal more than fish in our Great Lake.