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Shipwrecks of the Thumb Area

 

The Commodore Foote collided with the large schooner John Kelderhouse in a passing mishap, and sank.  The ship was bound from Milwaukee for Oswego.

The starboard bow is intact with the anchor still hanging. The bowsprit is in place with a scroll head.  Another anchor lies on the port side. The starboard hull is collapsed inward and the port hull outward. Several deck knees extend upwards from the port hull. A large centerboard box extends above the bottom at amidships. The capstan sits on the bottom on the starboard side of the centerboard box. A deck winch and the wheel rest just aft of the centerboard box.  The bottom is littered with tangled deck planking, beams, and several hatches.  At the stern, the rudder remains upright, supported by the keel. The transom lies on the bottom in one section, just aft the rudder.  A boom or gaff lies on the bottom off of the port side, as does a mast.  This is an intriguing site, providing a wealth on information on ship construction.

 

 

The Minnedosa  foundered in a massive storm while under tow by steamer Westmount.  It was the largest Canadian sailing vessel ever built in Canada.  Although the Minnedosa was four masted she was never intended to work under sail. She came along towards the end of the era of the wooden ship and would be towed as a barge, and that is precisely what happened when she sunk. While one of two barges being towed behind a steamer she foundered in a particularly violent gale and went to the bottom.

There is a certain aura that you expect when you are diving one of  the sites, you hope there will still be some of the mystique about it.  It is one big schooner with a lot to see. The bow contains a very large windlass, anchors, and belaying pin laden fife racks.  The bowsprit is missing.  The deck is littered with masts and rigging. At the stern, the cabin lies collapsed and ajar on the deck.  It over hangs the port rail a bit. Evidence of the integrity of those who dive her, several artifacts are displayed here.  The wheel is in place and looms massive.  The yawl lies on the bottom at the port, aft corner.  Another breath taking dive. Plan accordingly.

 

On August 8, 1868, the Dunderberg set sail from Chicago with a cargo of corn and six passengers. The 187 foot, three masted schooner had sailed the lakes for only 14 months when, on August 12, down bound to Detroit in lake Huron, the steamer Empire State brought about her untimely death. Under her sixty foot bowsprit, a figurehead gazes silently into the murky deep, this unique figurehead, combined with her ornate finish work, set the Dunderberg apart from the normal working class ship of the 1860's.  Her story depicts a classic wreck, perfectly preserved in the cold depths of Lake Huron.  The mate of the Empire State was faulted in the collision, which took the life of a female passenger.
 

 

 

 

 

The Morrell Departed Buffalo, NY for Taconite, Mn November 26, 1966, running in ballast. After waiting out the weather in the Detroit River the evening of November 27, she entered lake Huron late afternoon the next day proceeding upbound. While she was passing Harbor Beach, MI, some radio communications were made between the Morrell and her sister ship, the Edward Y. Townsend, traveling two hours astern. Both Captains were having difficultly holding course in the building seas. On a side note, the Townsend, which survived the storm, upon arrival at the Soo locks, had its certificate of inspection withdrawn by the coast guard due to structural damage. By midnight, the winds had increased to gale force. Sometime in the early hours of November 29, the Morrell disappeared beneath 25'  waves, without sending a mayday. 28 of her 29 crewmen lost their lives. Sole survivor Dennis Hale indicates that she broke in two. Stationed in the bow, he describes, the mystifying sight of the stern section steaming off into the night. Hale was among several surviving crew men to take to a lifeboat. After one and a half days adrift in the storm, they were located the afternoon of November 30, by coast guard helicopter, aground in the shallows North of Port Hope, MI. With the exception of Hale, all aboard succumbed to exposure, their bodies clad in ice. A delirious Hale was immediately air evacuated to Harbor Beach Hospital.  The stern section was located by the coast guard in January 1967, sitting upright in 210'  of water. The bow section, discovered over 20 years later by civilian wreck hunters,  is located 5 miles from the bow section, sitting upright in 180' of water.
 

Pictures on this page are copyright Jack Papes.  All Rights Reserved.  They are from his website http://www.n2junkie.com/index.htm.  Visit this website for more pictures and information about diving in Lake Huron.  Pictures have been used by permission.
 

Area Shipwrecks

     

 

Rec & Tec Dive Charters
Capt. Gary D. Venet Sr.
PADI MSDT #58625
20425 Villa Grande Circle
Clinton Township, Michigan 48038
Home/Fax: 586-263-6606 Cell Phone: 586-994-7858
www.rectecdivecharters.com/
scuba4us@hotmail.com


 

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