Lake Superior Shipwrecks


When you think of shipwrecks on Lake Superior, your first thought may be the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, but Lake County and Lake Superior have a much deeper history than just the one ship.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s the Great Lakes (Lake Superior in particular) were very dangerous to sail on. Here are several of the biggest wrecks to take place on Lake Superior.

The Samuel P. Ely was a ship that was on route from Kelley’s Island, Ohio to Duluth, Minnesota in 1896. During its voyage, the Samuel P. Ely looked to steam up to Two Harbors, Minnesota where it was met with high winds and the crew had a tough time making it into the harbor. Due to the strong winds, the anchors were not able to hold the Samuel P. Ely in place and the ship collided with the break wall and proceeded to sink in the early hours of the morning.

The SS Bannockburn is a steamship that went missing on November 20th, 1902 due to snowy weather. Before the ship’s disappearance, the SS Bannockburn actually sunk once in 1897 after colliding with a canal wall. The last time the ship was seen was around the vessel Algonquin roughly 40 miles east of Isle Royale in Lake Superior. Due to an overwhelming amount of fog, the Algonquin lost sight of the SS Bannockburn and never saw it again. After this disappearance, the SS Bannockburn became known as “the Flying Dutchman of the Great Lakes”.

The most infamous shipwreck to take place on Lake Superior is that of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald. On November 10, 1975, the largest ship that was on the Great Lakes sank to the bottom of Lake Superior putting to end the 17-year lifespan of the vessel. The SS Edmund Fitzgerald was found 4 days after sinking on November 14th, 1975. Nearly 45 years after the wreck, references to the vessel can be found all along the North Shore.

There are so many other shipwrecks that happened on Lake Superior. When visiting Lake County be sure to learn more about the other wrecks that have happened.