The following information is presented only as a general overview of primary
dive sites in the Straits of Mackinac. It is not meant to represent any
dive site as suitable for any particular diver or degree of training.
No representations as to water conditions including currents and visibility
are made. Such conditions can vary substantially during different seasons
and from day to day. All depths, distances and dimensions are approximate.
1. WILLIAM H. BARNUM
Length: 218' Beam: 35' Depth: 50'
Type: Wooden Steamer Lost: April 3, 1894
Built: 1873, Detroit, Michigan
Lake Huron, 5.5 miles southeast of Mackinac Bridge
How lost: While carrying a cargo of corn, the aging Barnum was
blocked and cut by ice. No loss of life occurred.
is upright and partially intact. The bow still has parts of the two decks,
which can be penetrated. The stern is collapsing but a large boiler and
propeller are in place. The rudder was salvaged some years ago and is
displayed on the waterfront in St. Ignace.
current is usually mild and visibility good. Divers can disturb silt.
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Length: 290' Beam: 41' Depth: 67'
Type: Steel Propeller Steamer Lost: May 10, 1895
Built: 1889, Cleveland, Ohio
Southwest of Straits of Mackinac in Lake Michigan near
Cross Village (because of the distance, advance arrangements should be
made if you desire to dive this site)
How lost: The Cayuga was one of five early steel sister ships.
She was carrying grain and general merchandise when she encountered dense
fog. The much smaller, wooden Joseph L. Hurd struck her on her starboard
bow and she sank in 25 minutes.
Because she was built of steel
and was relatively new, extensive, unsuccessful efforts were made to raise
her from 1896-99. These attempts left unique, large pontoons and other
salvage equipment at the wreck site. A flat barge, lost in the salvage
effort, sits off her port bow.
tilts slightly to port and is gradually decaying with the bow beginning
to collapse. The stern is relatively intact and allows some penetration.
Although heavily salvaged, many details of her construction are present
along with some hardware.
strong current can be present and the visibility can vary from good to
Length: 588' Beam: 60' Depth: 40'
Type: Steel Steam Freighter Lost:
May 7, 1965
Built: 1927, River Rouge, Michigan; converted to self-unloader
1956-57; modified 1961 (reboilered and new stack)
Lake Huron, 3 miles east of Mackinac Bridge
How lost: This modern shipwreck is the result of controversial
conduct by two ships. Carrying a cargo of limestone, the Cedarville was
westbound when she ran into very heavy fog. The Cedarville continued moving
relying on her radar and radio contact. The M.V. Topdalsfjord did not
respond by radio resulting in confusion by the Cedarville officers. When
the ships were near collision, the Cedarville attempted an emergency turn
but was struck hard port amidships. She sank quickly, settling in two
parts at approximately a 45-degree angle. The Cedarville was found at
fault. Eight lives were lost.
She was heavily salvaged because
of her close proximity to the surface. Today, her cargo of limestone lies
spilled on the lake floor alongside her unloader.
Cedarville is in very good condition. While much of her ship stores and
gear have been removed, she still has much to explore. Her cargo holds
are very large, the pilothouse is easily accessible, the forward and stern
crew quarters are intact, and her engine room is accessible. No penetration
should be attempted without proper training. Hazards are present on the
ship including open doors and hatchways, entangling line, confined spaces
and heavy interior silt.
ship is quickly accessed because of the closeness of her keel to the surface.
A current can be present. Visibility is usually fair but it can turn poor
depending, in part, on the current.
4. EBER WARD
Length: 213' Beam: 32' Depth: 100'
Type: Wooden Steamer Lost: April 20, 1909
Built: 1888, W. Bay City, MI
Lake Michigan, 4.5 miles west of Mackinac Bridge
How lost: While carrying a cargo of corn, the Ward struck a spring
ice floe opening a large hole at her port bow. She went down quickly,
taking five members of her crew with her. Eight men survived.
upper works are gone but the hull remains upright, very well preserved
and remarkably intact. Among other features, she has a unique mushroom
anchor, two decks, a round stern, engine, boiler, early mechanical unloading
equipment, and hand trucks stored in her bow top deck. Her smokestack
lies on the starboard bottom and a lifeboat rests off her starboard stern.
Topside a porcelain toilet and bathtub sit on the deck.
strong current can be present. The inside of the hull has very heavy silt
making penetration risky without proper training. Visibility can vary
but is generally good.
5. COLONEL ELLSWORTH
Length: 137' Beam: 26' Depth: 70'
Type: Wooden Schooner Lost: September 2, 1896
Built: 1861, Euclid, Ohio
Lake Michigan, 6 miles east of White Shoals Lighthouse
How lost: The Ellsworth was caught in a gale and rainstorm resulting
in a collision with the Emily B. Maxwell. The Maxwell saved her crew.
The Ellsworth then sank bow first.
to its distance well West of the Mackinac Bridge, the Ellsworth is a less
frequently visited dive site. It is an excellent example of a schooner
type vessel. She sits upright. Her bow is in better condition than her stern. Despite some collapsed decking, much hardware,
deck fittings, and equipment remain. One mast lies on the port side lake
of entanglement exist due to fishing nets. Current is usually moderate
and visibility is generally good.
6. FRED McBRIER
Length: 161' Beam: N.A. Depth: 89'
Type: Wooden Propeller Steamer Lost: October 3, 1890
Built: 1881, W. Bay City, Michigan
Lake Michigan, 9 miles west of Mackinac Bridge
How lost: Loaded with iron ore, the McBrier was towing two schooner
barges at night when she was struck by the much larger propeller Progress.
The collision gored a hole in her hull quickly sinking her. The entire
crew was saved.
McBrier is upright but is breaking up. Her stern is mostly intact while her bow has seperated. Much equipment is present including
her engines and windlass.
is possible. Current is mild and visibility is usually fair.
7. MARTIN STALKER
Length: 135' Beam: N.A. Depth: 85'
Type: Wooden Schooner Lost: November 5, 1886
Built: 1863, Milan, Ohio; rebuilt 1875
Lake Huron, 2 miles east of Mackinac Bridge
How lost: The Stalker fell prey to a November storm. She was attempting
to ride out a gale while anchored west of Mackinaw City when the barge
Muskoka struck her. The collision took her headgear down and, loaded with
a cargo of iron ore, she began to sink. Despite her bilge pumps and a
dash for shore, she went down with her crew abandoning her. There was
no loss of life.
on a sloping lake floor, the Stalker is upright and her stern and midships are intact. Her bow is damaged. Much of her
sailing gear remains including a windlass, winches, and rigging. A mast
lies to starboard.
is required in mooring at this site because it sits in the ferry lane
used by the ferry traffic between Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island. Because
of its location, it is usually not buoyed. Visibility is good and the
current is usually mild.
Length: 133' Beam: 26' Depth: 70'
Type: Three Masted Barque Lost: June 11, 1871
Built: 1861, Goderich, Ontario
Lake Michigan, 7 miles west of Mackinac Bridge
How lost: The victim of a peculiar collision, the Maitland was
lost when she collided in a glancing blow starboard to starboard with
the schooner Golden Harvest. While trying to recover by turning to port,
she was struck near her starboard bow by the schooner barge Mears. The
second collision made a long vertical slice in her hull causing her to
sink in five minutes taking her cargo of corn with her. The Maitland crew
was saved but one man died on the Golden Harvest.
top deck of the Maitland is well preserved and easily visited. The hull
is upright and intact but below the top deck, the Maitland is heavily
silted making any real penetration impossible. Nonetheless, the slice
in her hull and much deck hardware and details are visible. The Samson
post, cabin outline, rudder, bilges, mast holes and windlass are all present. What appears to be her deckhouse roof lies upside down off her starboard stern.
current is mild and visibility can be good to excellent. Divers can disturb
Length: 226' Beam: N.A. Depth: 60'
Type: Wooden Steamer Lost: April 4, 1894
Built: 1873, Marine City, Michigan
about 500' southwest of south pier of Mackinac Bridge
How lost: The Minneapolis was lost one day after the Barnum sank.
Carrying a cargo of wheat with two schooner barges in tow, she was traveling
east through a gale when she encountered ice floes. Apparently the ice
opened her hull so that she began taking on water. Despite the use of
her pumps, the hold was filling rapidly when the crew abandoned ship,
transferring to one of the schooners just as she sank bow first.
sits on a sloping bottom, upright with the bow pointing slightly downward.
The bow is broken up and the stern is decaying, but the very large propeller,
engine, boiler and smoke stack are all present. An impressive rudder lies
on its side off the starboard stern.
can be a very difficult dive. Strong currents sometimes run making descent
and ascent difficult. Visibility can vary from poor to good. This is an
Length: 223' Beam: N.A. Depth: 52'
Type: Wooden Schooner Lost: April 6, 1898
Built: 1873, Bangor, Michigan
Lake Michigan, 6 miles west of Mackinac Bridge
How lost: A schooner converted to barge use, the Northwest was
undertow with a cargo of corn. She struck ice below her waterline and
took on water. Her crew was taken on board one of her escorts without
loss of life.
Northwest is the fourth largest schooner ever lost on the Great Lakes.
Today she is largely broken apart lying on the lake floor and bearing
little resemblance to the single deck, four masted schooner she was once.
Even in this condition, her deck and construction techniques are visible
along with her mechanical equipment including a donkey steam engine, bilge pumps, and windlass. Her stern and rudder lie on the lake floor.
of the scattered condition of the wreck, care should be exercised to keep
track of the route back to the mooring line. The current is mild and visibility
is usually good.
11. ST. ANDREW
Length: 135' Beam: N.A. Depth: 52'
Type: Wooden Schooner Lost: June 26, 1878
Built: 1857, Milan, Ohio
Lake Huron, 11.5 miles east of Mackinac Bridge
How lost: Carrying corn, the St. Andrew sank following a nighttime
collision with the schooner Peshtigo. In the collision, both ships sank
quickly taking down two members of the Peshtigo crew. All of the St. Andrew
crew took to her boats and were saved.
St. Andrew is upright but decaying. She has split into longitudinal sections
but much of her bow and deck are still intact. The top deck shows some
examples of the sailing hardware and construction of the time. Her centerboard sits upright and decking partially covers her windlass.
mild current and good visibility are generally present.
Length: 110' Beam: 25' Depth: 70'
Type: Wooden Two Masted Brig Lost: September 20, 1856
Built: 1848, Sandusky, Ohio
Lake Michigan, 5 miles west of Mackinac Bridge
How lost: No one survived the sinking of the Sandusky. She was
carrying a crew of seven and a cargo of grain. A strong gale overwhelmed
her off Old Mackinac Point. A passing ship saw three sailors clinging
to a spar but the gale prevented them from being reached.
Sandusky is, perhaps, the best known and most visited dive site in the
Straits of Mackinac. She is in relatively shallow water and is a well-preserved
example of early Great Lakes sailing vessels. Upright on the bottom, her
bowsprit still points upward and a ram's head figurehead crowns the bow.
Figureheads are not typical on Great Lakes ships and this one is a replica.
The original was removed for preservation after an attempted theft some years ago. While much of her hardware has illegally disappeared over the years, her rudder,
tiller, capstan, working bilge pump, masts and rigging are still on site.
current is mild and visibility is usually good. Silt has settled on the
deck but poses little impediment to viewing the ship unless other divers
stir it up.
Length: estimated 148' Beam: N/A Depth: 100
Type: Schooner barge Lost:1891
Built: 1863, Marine City, Michigan
Lake Huron, 1.25 miles east of Mackinac Bridge
Note: This shipwreck was discovered in midsummer, 2002. There is a great
deal still unknown about it.
The Young was a former schooner bark converted to use
as a tow barge. She was towing a cargo of coal when lost. She began taking
on water and sank, probably in bad weather. No information now available
on loss of life.
struck bottom bow first resulting in damage to the bow. The top deck cabins
are gone. The remainder of the hull is upright and in good condition.
The holds are still full of coal eliminating any real penetration. The
broken bow does, however, feature a "swimthrough" from the forward
hatch to the anchors which still hang gracefully on each side. Because
this wreck was not found earlier, it has not been looted and there is
much to see. The ship's wheel, two anchors, a capstan, windlass, deadeyes,
one mast, rigging and hardware can all be seen. A portion of the bow deck,
perhaps broken off on impact, lies about 50' astern. Much more awaits
current is usually present. It can range to a strong current. Visibility
varies as well but on some occasions has been excellent. The site will
have to be visited more often to see if any pattern exists.