Great Lakes Shipwreck Facts More than 6,000 shipwrecks
Great Lakes Shipwreck Facts More than 6,000 shipwrecks have occurred on the Great Lakes. Approximately 25,000 people have lost their lives due to Great Lakes shipping related accidents. 70 percent of the ships that sailed the Great Lakes in the 1800s wrecked. The Great Lakes claim the highest concentration
of shipwrecks on the planet. Lake Erie claims the most wrecks, followed by Huron, Michigan, Ontario, and Superior. Shipwrecks by Lake Lake Erie 27%
Lake Superior 11% Lake Ontario 11% Unknown
2% Lake Huron 25% Lake Michigan 24%
Where Ships Wreck Shipwrecks are primarily located in common shipping lanes where traffic is high. Many shipping lanes are narrow making collisions
more likely. Shoals and sand bars often tightly border shipping lanes making navigation treacherous. Whitefish Point Port Hope
Underwater Preserve Manitou Passage Thunder Bay Saginaw Bay
Chicago Bay Lake Ontario 1000 Islands Region Reasons Ships Wreck
Storm Fire or Explosion
Collision Ice Other Percent of Shipwrecks Attributed to Each Cause Storm- 51.2% Fire or Explosion22.8%
Collision- 12.7% Ice- .01% Other- 10.3% The Witch of November
Unpredictable and often violent late fall weather creates dangerous sailing conditions for Great Lakes ships. October and November weather is responsible for most of the Great Lakes shipwrecks that have occurred due to storms. Weather in November has been known to produce wave heights up to 30 feet. These storms are also commonly referred to as the Gales of
November. Number of Ships that have Wrecked each Month due to Storm 700 622 633
600 500 400 300 200 100 0
3 1 8 64
88 97 156 64 199
9 The Griffi n
70 foot sailing brig. Built by LaSalle for exploration and fur trading. Regarded as the first decked ship to sail the Great Lakes. Sank in August of 1679 probably near the Straits of Mackinaw. Entire crew of 6 lost.
Probable Location of the Griffin Wreck The Regina
296 foot steel package freighter. Sank on November 10, 1913 in Lake Huron near Port Sanilac. Entire crew of 20 lost. Overwhelmed by the famous Big Storm of 1913 which sank 71 vessels and killed 248 people.
The Wreck of the Regina 623 foot, steel, self unloading limestone freighter. Lost on Lake Michigan, 12 miles southwest of Gull Island, November 18, 1958.
The Carl D. Bradley The Bradley broke in two after fighting 30 foot waves and 65 mph winds. 33 of 35 crew members lost.
27 of the 35 crew resided in Rogers City, MI. The Wreck of the Bradley The Edmund Fitzgerald
729 foot, steel, self unloading, iron ore carrier. The Edmund Fitzgerald was the Flag Ship of the Oglebay Norton shipping company. On November 10, 1975, after fighting 80 mph winds, 30 foot waves, and sustaining significant damage, the Ed Fitz sank near Lake Superiors Whitefish Point.
All 29 crew members were lost. The longest and most capacious ship ever to sink on the Great Lakes The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald Fires and
Explosions Fuel leaks are the greatest cause of boat and ship fires. Faulty electrical systems can spark a fire. Careless human activity and arson have also caused a number of nautical fires. Explosions are often due to boiler failures or cargo
related issues. The G.P.
Griffith 193 foot wood sidewinder passenger ship. Lost in Lake Erie near Cleveland, June 17, 1850. 200 to 325 lives lost. Fire may have ignited from an illegal load of matches and turpentine.
The Wreck of the G.P. Griffith The Noronic 362 foot steel passenger ship Burned on Lake Ontario while tied up in Toronto Harbor.
119 passengers died. The cause of the fire is believed to be arson. The ship burned to a shell and was later scuttled in deep water. The Wreck of the Noronic
Collisions Heavy traffic areas such as bays and narrow shipping lanes contain a disproportionately large number of wrecks due to collision. Many collisions can be attributed to fog which reduces visibility. The
Pewabic 200 foot wood passenger ship. Sank in Lake Hurons Thunder Bay on August 9, 1865. 100 lives lost. Collided almost bows-on with her sister ship the Meteor while trying to pass messages and
mail from one ship to the other. The Wreck of the Pewabic The Cedarville
588 foot steel, self-unloading, iron ore freighter. Sank on May 7, 1965 in Lake Huron. The wreck lies 3 miles east of the Mackinaw Bridge. Collided with a Norwegian freighter while underway in fog. 10 of 31 crew lost. The Wreck of the Cedarville
Ice Ships can become trapped in ice and have their hull crushed or run into drifting ice gouging their hull open. Ice would also freeze parts of ships such as the rudder, or weigh down the deck of a ship, causing it to sink. 75% of ice related shipwrecks have occurred in the spring. Almost all of the ships that sank due to ice were made of wood.
The 352Aurania foot steel bulk freighter Sank on April 29, 1909 in Lake Superior near Parisienne Island.
No loss of life. The crew walked to another ship. Got trapped in pack ice and the hull was slowly crushed The Wreck of the Aurania Unusual and Freak Accidents
Many ships have been lost for reasons not known or due to freak and unusual occurrences. Some rare occurrences that have been documented include hull failures, capsizing in calm seas or at dock, and strandings. The Eastland
296 foot steel passenger vessel. Sank on July 24, 1915 in Chicago Harbor. The Wreck of the Eastland
The Eastland capsized while tied up at dock as passengers were boarding. The capsizing was attributed to the fact that the ship was top heavy and the ballast tanks that distribute the ships weight were mismanaged. Eventually the Eastland rolled completely over trapping many below and within the ship. In all, 844 people were lost due to the accident. Only 3 were crew.
The Onoko 287 foot, four-masted, steel, steam powered, cargo vessel. Lost on Lake Superior near Duluth Minnesota, September 15, 1915. Was the largest ship on the Great Lakes when built in 1882. Was the first metal bulk carrier on the Great Lakes.
While traveling on Lake Superior, she lost a hull plate under the engine room The ship immediately began to sink The rush of cold water caused the boiler to explode. The Wreck of the Onoko
All 18 crew and the ship mascot, a bulldog, survived. As the Onoko sank, she rolled and now lays upside down under 220 feet of water. The Mesquite 180 foot steel Coast Guard Cutter
Wrecked on December 9, 1989 near Lake Superiors Keweenaw Peninsula. The Wreck of the Mesquite With the end of the shipping season near, the Mesquite was retrieving the remaining navigational buoys from Lake Superior A series of navigational errors caused the ship to drift off course and run aground becoming stranded.
Believing that the Mesquite would weather the winter, the Coast Guard waited until spring to salvage the cutter. When spring came, significant ice and weather related damage was discovered. She was later stripped of her superstructure, towed into deep water, and sunk to become part of a new underwater preserve
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