This 240 foot long self-loading barge was built in 1929. Her unique design allowed her to travel under the bridges of Chicago without them being raised. She sank during a storm in 1936, and today she sits upright in 30 feet of water. The MSB was lost off the South
Chicago lighthouse and was carrying sand. It was foundered in a heavy gale, and was not designed to withstand open lake environments. In the end, roughly 15 to 22 lives were lost in the event. Sunk: July 29, 1936 Depth: 22-38 Feet Book Now!
Built in 1895, she sank in 40 feet of water 3 miles from the Calumet City lighthouse. She capsized when overtaken by a northeast gale wind on September 29, 1906, off the entrance to the Chicago Harbor. The large amount of water in the holds caused the center of gravity to shift with each wave. The Ames and a second tug, the Perfection, returned to help the ferry. She gave a sudden lurch, began recovering, and then
flipped clean over. She took the lives of 6 of her crew with her. Her cargo consisted of 28 railroad cars sitting on 4 tracks. They were also loaded with iron ore, telegraph poles and lumber. Although difficult to find, this 300′ long wreck is still interesting and well worth seeing. It was a fatal decision. The barge continued to list to port. The Ames and a second tug, the Perfection, returned to rescue the barge. She gave a sudden lurch, started to recover, then flipped clean over. Sunk: September 29, 1906 Depth: 42 Feet Book Now!
At the time of her sinking in 1907, the Illinois was the largest hydraulic dredge on the Lake. Today she rests in 35 feet of water near another dive site, the Holly Barge, Chicago’s first intentional shipwreck. The Illinois was a tug guided sand dredge. There is a pile of plates and general
wreckage mess including a large centrifugal pump lying at an oblique angle. There is a slightly spooky feel at night, simply because of the amount of wreckage and yet no life or seaweed around it. There is a newly sunk barge nearby, the Holly Barge, sunk specifically for divers. This wreck is upright and in excellent condition. It is possible to penetrate inside. Sunk: 1920s/1930s & May 6, 2000 (respectively) Depth: 24-33 Feet Book Now!
The Flora was built in 1875 in Milwaukee and has a length of 174 feet. It was lost on November 14, 1912 in a harbor in Chicago. Thankfully, there was no loss of life. Crushed by ice in Nov. of 1912, she lies in 28 feet of water. In 1913 she was dynamited by the Army Corps because she posed a hazard to navigation. At the time of her sinking, her cargo was a load of automotive lamps made of solid brass. Some remain to
be found among the wreckage; spend a lot of time digging around and you may be lucky to find one – but put them back – looking only, no souvenir hunting allowed! Essentially, she was crushed, blown up and became a debris field. Sunk: November 14, 1912 Depth: 36 Feet Book Now!
The schooner ship was built in 1855 in Buffalo with a length of 130 feet. It was lost on May 12, 1866, 6 miles northeast of the Chicago River mouth. It now rests roughly 50 feet below water. On a dark night, the Wings of Wind collided with the H.P. Baldwin due to a lack of visual with one
another, and sank. The bark of the Baldwin crushed the side of the schooner, but fortunately the crew of the Wings was able to escape in her yawl before sinking. Sunk: May 12, 1866 Depth: 40-45 Feet Book Now!
Sunk: November 4, 1929 Depth: 27-35 Feet Book Now!
Built in 1881 in Toledo with a length of 265 feet, this schooner was transporting coal on its last voyage. Thankfully, there was no loss of life in the incident. She was lost on November 25, 1889. While towing steamer Aurora with barge Adams and bound for Chicago, the Dows broke her back on a series of big waves during a storm and went down in 42 feet of water. Her 5 masts were
emergent after sinking and became a serious navigational problem for vessels approaching Chicago, until winter ice removed them. The hull has been partly removed in 1908, but remains are a frequent dive target. Dows is reportedly the largest and most capacious schooner in the world when built, but her various owners found her impractical. She was thus used mostly as a towed barge and probably the only 5-master ever built on the lakes. Sunk: November 30, 1889 Depth: 40-45 Feet Book Now!
The Louisville was built in 1853 in Buffalo with a length of 137 feet. She had a short life afloat sinking on September 29, 1857 off Calumet, Illinois. Fire was discovered in her cargo hold approximately amidships. Even though she had to be abandoned quickly, of her
crew and the fifteen passengers aboard, only one died, a fireman who was lost when one of her lifeboats capsized. She burned to a total loss. The Northern Transportation Liner was bound for St. Joseph, Michigan from Chicago. She now rests in a depth of 60 feet below water. Sunk: February 2, 1893 Depth: 60 feet Book Now!
The Buccaneer is a 100 foot long patrol boat with a 23 foot beam that served from 1925 to 1936. This was one of 13 patrol boats armed with a 23-caliber gun constructed for the U.S. Coast Guard to be used against rum runners in the Great Lakes and the Gulf of
Mexico. After the ships retirement from patrolling the waters, it ended its working career as a pirate-themed charter craft that could be hired anytime for a party by calling 1-800-PARTY-BOAT. The Buccaneer has been sunk and now rests below 72 feet of water 10 miles off Chicago. Sunk: June 18, 2010 Depth: 72 Feet Book Now!
The Rotarian was built in 1889 in Sandusky, Ohio. It was approximately 147 feet long with a beam of 27 feet. The vessel spent many years as a passenger excursion ship. When it moved to Chicago in the 1920’s, this aging vessel was used successively as a dance hall, the home of the Cook County Democrats, and as a restaurant that offered illegal bootleg alcohol during Prohibition. Even Al Capone
entertained on this ship. After sinking at its dock, the Rotarian was raised and towed out into Lake Michigan on Sept. 28, 1931, and scuttled. The wreck lies at 84 feet with much to see: boiler, the collapsed hull, its propeller, and, amidst the hull timbers, numerous beer bottles from Prohibition days. Sunk: September 28, 1931 Depth: 80-84 Feet Book Now!
The historic Great Lakes steamship STRAITS OF MACKINAC arrived in Chicago on Tuesday June 25th, from Kewaunee Wisconsin. Slated to be sunk at a location Northeast of Navy Pier as an artificial reef and recreational site for scuba divers. The purpose of sinking the 200 foot long coal-fired car ferry is to increase recreational tourism to Chicago and also by providing an attractive habitat for perch,
bass and other native species. The ship will enhance Chicago’s sport fishing industry and add a new, intact shipwreck that will make the Straits of Mackinac the first substantial wreck in Chicago waters since 1929. The purpose of sinking the 200 foot long coal-fired car ferry is to increase recreational tourism to Chicago and also by providing an attractive habitat for perch, bass and other native species. The ship will enhance Chicago’s sport fishing industry and add a new, intact shipwreck that will make the Straits of Mackinac the first substantial wreck in Chicago waters since 1929. Sunk: April 10, 2003 Depth: 42-80 FeetBook Now!
The Wells Burt was built by the Detroit Dry Dock Co. and launched in 1873 as a bulk carrier. Her length reached 201 feet with a beam of 33.5 feet. Her hold was over 14 feet of depth and could carry about 50,000 bushels of corn. She only served for 10 years on the Great Lakes. A furious storm took its toll on the ship while en route from Buffalo to Chicago with a load of coal. The storm was so powerful that the residents of Chicago reported an upward spraying of over 100 feet. The steering gear was disabled and the ship was forced to submit to the strength of the storm. In the end, all eleven crew members perished. Over one hundred years after sinking, in
1988, professional divers notified the Underwater Archaeological Society that they had discovered the sunken ship. This wreck is unique to Chicago shipwrecks, as the Wells Burt is almost completely intact. She now rests at a depth of 40 feet. Sunk: May 20, 1883 Depth: 38-45 Feet Book Now!
On September 7, 1860 however the atmosphere aboard the refurbished Lady Elgin was festive. On board were 350 passengers, and 35 crew members bound for Milwaukee. Sometime between 10 and 11pm, the ship departed Chicago where most of her passengers had listened earlier that day to a presidential campaign speech by Stephen A. Douglas. As the ship steamed against heavy northeast winds, a
German brass band entertained everyone on board. By 2:30 in the morning on September 8, they were approximately 16 miles north of Chicago. Many passengers were asleep in their staterooms, although accounts say that some were still dancing to the band. Outside however the sailors had to contend with heavy thunderstorms, gale force winds, and the sudden appearance of a small schooner called the Augusta. Although the Lady Elgin was brightly lit, the Augusta was dark, making her difficult to see at night in a squall. And due to the heavy winds, her speed was eleven knots per hour. A coroner’s inquest later revealed that the Augusta’s second mate had seen the lights of the passenger steamer thirty minutes before the accident, but no attempt to correct course was taken for another twenty minutes. Sunk: September 8, 1860 Depth: 55 FeetBook Now!
The Thomas Hume, which was operating in the lumber industry, transported lumber from Muskegon to Chicago. One day, the schooner went missing with six men aboard during a squall on Lake Michigan on May 21, 1891. Among many theories that arose
over the time of the disappearance was that the captain sailed to another port, re-painted the Thomas Hume and took it for his own. Another theory was that a much larger steamer ran down the schooner and the steamer’s captain swore his crew to secrecy. Sunk: May 21, 1891 Depth: 145 Feet Book Now!