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Shipwrecks


The ALLEGHENY (official number 105295) was built by W.W. Loomis in 1873 in Erie, Pennsylvania. The Allegheny’s hull measured 187 ft length x 33 ft width x 13.1 ft. height at 689 tons gross, and a net of 599 tons. On June 6th, 1913, the Allegeny heavy with a load of lumber was under tow by M.T. Green and caught in a fierce gale storm. The tow line parted and the Allegheny struck a sand bar near Vermillion Life-Saving Station, Michigan. The ship broke up in the shallows and was a complete loss. Lifesaving station surf men took five of her crew off before the ship broke up. One crew man was lost. Discovered in 2006 by the Whitefish Point Underwater Presrve.

The COMET (official number 5683) was built in 1857 by Peck and Masters in Cleveland. A propeller, package and bulk freight, wooden hull vessel measuring 181.16 ft length x 29 ft width x 12.33 ft height, and 621.90 gross tonnage. A full deck cabin was added in 1860 and readmeasured at Buffalo, NY, May 19, 1865 increasing the gross tonnage to 744. On August 26, 1875, 7 miles SE of Whitefish Point, the COMET collided with the Canadian propeller MANITOBA and swiftly sank with 11 of the 21 people on board. Carrying ores, pig iron, and sacks of wool. While trying to pass the Beatty Line steamer MANITOBA on a foggy night, signals were misunderstood and COMET veered into the path of MANITOBA and was rammed on the port side about 25 feet aft of the stem, cutting her nearly in two. She sank in 5 minutes or less and lies in 300 feet of water. Owned by Hanna Co. of Cleveland. Bound to Marquette for Cleveland.  Sister ship of the steamer ROCKET.  Built as a freighter, with passenger accommodations added two years later. Collided with prop SILVER SPRAY near Port Huron in Aug 1869 and sunk her. Two months later she suffered another collision with the prop HUNTER in a passing mishap similar to her final accident, and both vessels sank. Rebuilt in 1863, 74.  Located in 1980. 

The JOHN B. COWLE (official number 77559) was built in 1902, Jenks, Port Huron. The COWLE measuring 420 ft length x 50 ft width x 28 ft height, 4731 gross tonnage, and 3911 net tonnage. A propeller, steel freighter carrying iron ore sank with 14 of 24 lives lost. On July 12, 1909, 1 mile NW of Whitefish Point, the COWLE was rammed by the large steel bulker ISAAC M. SCOTT and sank in 3 minutes. Heavy fog covered the area at the time. SCOTT and the passing bulker GOODYEAR picked up survivors. Located in 1972. 

The M.M. DRAKE (official number 91485) was built as a package freighter in Buffalo, NY by the Union Dry Dock Co. in 1882. A wooden hull propeller vessel measured 201 ft length x 34.42 ft width x 14.50 ft height, 915 gross tonnage, and 762 net tonnage. Readmeasured at Buffalo, NY, May 5, 1885 at 1102 gross tonnage and 948 net tonnage. In a heavy gale on October 2, 1901, the DRAKE carrying iron ore foundered off Vermilion Point, Lake Superior, along with her tow, the schooner MICHIGAN. The DRAKE lost the line to her sinking consort MICHIGAN, and then collided with her while trying to take off her crew.  The NORTHERN WAVE and CRESCENT CITY rescued crews of both vessels. Located in 1978.

The ORA ENDRESS, is reported to lie in 13-15 feet, about one mile west of Whitefish Point. The 56-net-ton fishing tug, measuring 58 ft length x 15 ft width x 6 ft height. She as was built at Manitowoc, Wisconsin in 1910 and capsized on September 13, 1914. The Whitefish Point lighthouse keeper and two other men rescuing all 11 crewmembers. The wreck, uncovered when sands shifted in early 1997, lies with her hull intact (but the cabin is missing) with much machinery in and around the hull. Sands continue to shift around this wreck.

The EUREKA (official number 8894) was built in 1873 in Trenton, MI, by A. Turner. The wooden schooner-barge measured 138 ft length x 26 ft width x 12 ft height, 330 gross tonnage and 313 net tonnage. During a storm on October 20, 1886, 5 miles off Vermilion Point, the EUREKA sank carrying iron ore with all 6 lives lost. She became separated from the 3-barge tow of the steamer PRENTICE and disappeared. PRENTICE waited for her to sail into Whitefish Bay. Her masts were discovered sticking out of the lake on the 23rd. Located in June 1983. 
The INDIANA was built in 1848 by Burton S. Goodsell in Vermilion, Ohio. The wooden schooner-barge measured 146.5 ft length x 23 ft width x 10.83 ft height, and 350 gross tonnage. At the time of her loss she was owned by the People’s Line (Frank Perew) of Cleveland.

On June 6, 1858, the INDIANA sunk due to mechanical failure 10 miles off Crisp Point. This was called, at the time, the first cargo of Lake Superior iron ore ever lost.

The SAMUEL MATHER (official number 116142) was built in 1887 in Cleveland, Ohio by Quayle's and owned by Pickands, Mather & Company at the time of her sinking. The wooden freight vessel measured 246 ft length x 40 ft width x 19.25 ft height, 1576.23 gross tonnage, and 1286.72 net tonnage.

The MATHER was lost off Pt. Iroquois, Whitefish Bay on November 21, 1891. She collided with the package freighter BRAZIL in thick fog and sank in the early a.m. BRAZIL picked up her crew. The Mather was down bound with a cargo of iron ore. She was a major loss of $176,000. Located in 1978.

The JOHN MITCHELL (official number 203943) was built in 1907 by Great Lakes Engineering in St. Clair, MI and owned by C.W. Elphicke out of Chicago. The steel freight vessel measured 420 ft length x 52 ft width x 23ft height, 4468 gross tonnage, and 3246 net tonnage.

On July 10, 1911 off Whitefish Point, the MITCHELL was rammed broadside by coal-laden steel steamer WILLIAM HENRY MACK. MACK tried to keep her bow in the hole, but MITCHELL still sank in 7 minutes. Quick work saved most of her crew and all 7 passengers. Three lives were lost. MACK got most of the blame for the accident.

The MITCHELL carried a cargo of wheat. The wreck discovered upside-down on the bottom in 1972.

The MIZTEC (official number 92166) was built in 1890 by J.H. Ihnken & P. Lester in Marine City, Michigan. The three masted wooden schooner measured 194 ft length x 34.5 ft width x 14 ft height, 777.1 gross tonnage, and 738.5 net tonnage. At the time of her loss she was owned by the People’s Line (Frank Perew) of Cleveland.

Foundered during a storm three miles off shore and five miles northeast of Vermilion Point, Lake Superior, on May 13, 1921. The towline broke and the schooner sunk with the crew of seven lost. The vessel, along with schooner barge PESHTIGO, were upbound in tow of propeller ZILLAH. The vessel was bound from Buffalo, NY, for Superior, WI, with cargo of salt at time of loss.

Previously, she had stranded with heavy damage in nearly the same spot in 1919. After rebuilding, she stranded again near the same spot in 1920. It got her at last in 1921. Wreckage found in 1983.

The MYRON was originally built as the MARK HOPKINS (official number 91993) was built 1888 by Mechanics Dry Dock Co. in Grand Haven, Michigan. The wooden ship measured 186 ft length x 32.50 ft width x 13 ft height, 732.06 gross tonnage, and 493.70 net tonnage. The vessels name was changed to MYRON in 1902. Rebuilt in Duluth, MN in April 1904 to a 676 gross tonnage and a 414 net tonnage.

Foundered three miles west of Whitefish Point, Lake Superior, one and one-half miles from shore, on November 23, 1919; seventeen lives lost. Vessel bound from Munising, MI, with lumber and barge MIZTEC in tow. One life saved and barge picked up by steamer ARGUS. Wreck was located in 1972.

The NESHOTO (official number 130440) was built 1889 by Quayle's in Cleveland, Ohio. The wooden steamer measured 284.16 ft length x 42.42 width x 22 ft height, 2255.11 gross tonnage, and 1904.58 net tonnage.

Floundered 2.5 miles east of U.S. Life Saving Station on Crisp Point on September 27, 1908. The ship's crew was blinded by a forest fire smoke during a storm. The crew was taken off by Life Saving crew, sixteen in all, as a gale came up, driving vessel broadside to waves, and pounding her to pieces. The crew were taken to the Soo by steamer MAYTHAM. Timbers and pieces of the machinery are the only thing left of the wreck.

The NIAGARA (official number 18787) was built in 1873 by Parsons & Humble in Tonawanda, NY. The three mast wooden schooner-barge measured 204.50ft length x 34 ft width x 14 ft height, 764.75 gross tonnage, and 726.52 net tonnage.

Foundered September 7, 1887, after breaking tow line from steamer AUSTRALASIA, about seven miles northwest of Whitefish Point and three and a half miles from shore, in a severe gale. All hands, nine lives, lost.

The NIAGARA was bound from Ashland, WI, for Sandusky, OH, with a cargo of iron ore. She slipped into the wave-troughs in a heavy gale, capsized and sank. Her iron ore, which was usually a very stable cargo, had shifted in the big waves. Tow of steamer AUSTRALASIA, she was reportedly overloaded by about 250 tons. The crew escaped the boat but was lost when her lifeboat capsized. She was a member of the Corrigan fleet.

The ALEXANDER NIMICK (official number 106702) was built in 1890 by James Davidson in West Bay City, MI. The wooden vessel measured 298.33 ft length x 40 ft width x 21 ft height, 1968.83 gross tonnage, and 1632.03 net tonnage.

The ALEXANDER NIMICK stranded thirteen miles west of Vermilion Point, MI, Lake Superior, on September 21, 1907; six of seventeen lives lost. The vessel was bound from Buffalo, NY, for Duluth, MN, with cargo of coal at time of loss.

She pressed on for Duluth in a gale after sheltering behind Whitefish Pt. for a day, and then was driven on a bar 13 miles west of Vermilion Pt. The survivors made it to shore in a lifeboat. Vessel pounded to pieces in 26 feet of water, near the mouth of Two-hearted River, MI.

The JOHN M. OSBORN (official number 76307) was built in 1882 by Morley & Hill in Marine City, MI. The wooden steam barge measured 178 ft length x 32 ft width x 14 ft height, 646.04 gross tonnage, and 535.91 net tonnage. Rebuilt in Cleveland, OH, on April 26, 1884 to 891.02 gross tonnage and net tonnage.

On July 27, 1884 in thick fog she was sunk by collision six miles west-northwest of Whitefish Point. The Osborne had departed Marquette bound for Ashtabula, Ohio with a load of iron ore and two barges in tow, when she collided with the steel passenger steamer ALBERTA. ALBERTA stayed in the gash until most of OSBORNE's crew scrambled aboard, and then pulled out and the OSBORNE sank. ALBERTA sank in shallow water, 3 1/2 miles from shore. 3 or 4 lives were lost from the OSBORNE, one from ALBERTA in brave rescue attempt while trying to get the crewmen off the OSBORNE. This was ALBERTA's first year of service. She was recovered and repaired soon afterward. The wreck of the OSBORNE was located in 1984, 100 years after this incident.

The PANTHER (official number 150497) was built in 1890 by James Davidson in West Bay City, MI. The wooden vessel measured 237 ft length x 36 ft width x 19 ft height, 1373.87 gross tonnage, and 1118.09 net tonnage. Rebuilt in Cleveland, OH, on April 26, 1884 to 891.02 gross tonnage and net tonnage. Rebuilt in Chicago, IL, April 22, 1901 to 247.50 ft length x 35.66 ft width x 22.16 ft height, and 1634 gross tonnage, and 1140 net tonnage.

She was rammed in dense fog by the steamer JAMES J HILL, which was kept running into the hole until PANTHER's crew clambered aboard. She sank quickly when HILL backed away. Vessel was down bound with cargo of grain at time of loss. Wreck located in 1975.

A more modern wreck is that of the wooden barge Sadie Thompson which broke free during a storm and sank during the construction of the Harbor of Refuge one mile south of the Point. The Sadie Thompson lies on its side on the bottom with a derrick attached. It is located about six miles south of Whitefish Pt.

The SAGAMORE (official number 57932) was built in 1892 by American Steel Barge Co. in Superior, WI. A unique Whaleback Barge measured 308 ft length x 38 ft width x 24 ft height, 1601 gross tonnage, and 1557net tonnage. She sunk in collision with propeller NORTHERN QUEEN near Point Iroquois, Whitefish Bay, Lake Superior on July 29, 1901. Three lives lost. She was riding at anchor waiting out fog when she was rammed by the 300-ft steel steamer NORTHERN QUEEN. SAGAMORE was riding very low in the water and was practically invisible because of the normal low profile of whalebacks. She split amidships and sank very quickly. She had been the tow of the whaleback steamer PATHFINDER. The SAGAMORE carried iron ore as cargo.

Yankee, sister ship of the Saturn

The Saturn is a wooden schooner barge that ran aground during a gale force storm on November 27, 1872. The Saturn’s Official Number is 57662 and was built in New Jersalem, Ohio. The Saturn was bound from Marquette (Upper Peninsula) to Wyandotte (just south of Detroit), Michigan with a load of iron ore. The steam tug General Dix (John A. Dix) was towing the Saturn and sister ship Jupiter when the tow line broke and the Saturn was torn to pieces in the shallows. The Jupiter is believed to be located about 15 miles west of Vermillion Point, also destroyed in the shallows. Tragically, all hands were lost from both schooners. Discovered in 2006 by the Whitefish Point Underwater Presrve.

The SUPERIOR CITY (official number 116820) was built in 1898 by the Cleveland Ship Building Co. in Lorain, OH. The steel freighter measured 429 ft length x 50 ft width x 24.58 ft height, 4795 gross tonnage, and 3693 net tonnage.

Sunk in collision with steamer WILLIS L. KING, August 20, 1920, on Whitefish Bay, Lake Superior. Boilers exploded as vessel sank; 29 of the 33 lives aboard were lost. Her cargo was iron ore.

Down bound, she collided with the 580 ft. steamer WILLIS L. KING in a confusion of passing signals. SUPERIOR crossed KING’s bow, was rammed amidships and sank very quickly. Cold water hitting boiler caused an explosion, which killed most of her crew. She was a Pittsburgher with a 1900 hp engine. Wreck discovered by a diver in 1972.

The VIENNA (official number 25875) was built in 1873 by Quayle & Martin in Cleveland, OH. The wooden vessel measured 191.33 ft length x 34.66 ft width x 14 ft height, 1006 gross tonnage, and 829 net tonnage. She was double-decked in 1876 and increased in tonnage in 1886. 

Sunk in collision with propeller NIPIGON about four miles below Whitefish Point, Lake Superior on September 17, 1892. Had cargo of iron ore, with schooner MATTIE C. BELL in tow, from Marquette, MI. Following collision, NIPIGON towed VIENNA for about an hour, but vessel went down in sixty fathoms of water. No lives lost. Final enrollment surrendered at Cleveland, OH, on September 28, 1892. 

Towing barge MATTIE C. BELL in fog. Rammed broadside by wooden propeller NIPIGON and went to bottom quickly with huge hole in her side. NIPIGON tried to take her in tow.

Octagonal pilothouse. Built for Cleveland Navigation Co. registered out of Cleveland. Wreck located in 1974. 

The ZILLA (official number 136106) was built in 1890 as the EDWARD SMITH by F. Wheeler in W. Bay City. Name changed to ZILLAH at Port Huron, MI, October 27, 1900. The wooden vessel measured 201 ft length x 37 ft width x 13 ft height, 748.30 gross tonnage, and 583.31 net tonnage. 

In Whitefish Bay August 29, 1926 the ZILLAH sunk with a cargo of limestone. She began to leak in a summer storm. She coasted in a circle as the crew gathered what belongings they could, then rolled over and sank while steamer WILLIAM B. SCHILLER stood by to take off her crew of fourteen, with help from the U.S. Coast Guard. Wreck located in 1975. 

©2012 S.Wilde. Resources for this information include the Lake Superior Marine Museum Archives, Historical Collections of the Great Lakes Bowling Green State University, Ontario Archives in Toronto, U.S. Coast Guard Inquiries and the Herman G. Runge Collection of the Milwaukee Public Library. Thank you.