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Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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The Wrecks of Thunder Bay

Lake Huron’s Thunder Bay sits in the middle of the Great Lakes waterway system, where navigational hazards and storms have left a trail of shipwrecks. Deputy editor Samir S. Patel visited “Shipwreck Alley” for ARCHAEOLOGY's January/February 2015 issue and dove with underwater archaeologists who are documenting centuries worth of well-preserved vessels—each a key part of the history of shipping on the lakes and the settlement and industrialization of the American continent. Below are images of some of these extraordinary vessels.  

  • DEFIANCE Vessel Type: Wooden two masted schooner; Length: 115 feet; Year launched: 1848; Year Lost: 1854; Cargo: Corn and wheat; Cause of loss: Collision; Depth: 185 feet (Courtesy Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary/NOAA)
  • PEWABIC Vessel type: Wooden twin-screw passenger/package freighter; Length: 200 feet; Year launched: 1863; Year lost: 1865; Cargo: Copper and iron ore, passengers; Cause of loss: Collision; Depth: 165 feet (Courtesy Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary/NOAA)
  • NORDMEER Vessel type: Steel ocean freighter; Length: 471 feet; Year launched: 1954; Year lost: 1966; Cargo: Rolled steel; Cause of loss: Ran aground; Depth: 40 feet (Courtesy Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary/NOAA)
  • NEW ORLEANS Vessel type: Wooden side-wheel steamboat; Length: 165 feet; Year launched: 1838; Year lost: 1849; Cargo: Passengers and freight; Cause of loss: Ran aground; Depth: 13 feet (Courtesy Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary/NOAA)
  • MONTANA Vessel type: Wooden steam barge; Length: 236 feet; Year built: 1872; Year lost: 1914; Cargo: None; Cause of loss: Fire; Depth: 65 feet (Courtesy Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary/NOAA)
  • GRECIAN Vessel type: Steel bulk freighter Length: 296 feet; Year built: 1891 Year lost: 1906; Cargo: None; Cause of loss: Foundered; Depth: 100 feet (Courtesy Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary/NOAA)

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