Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Sagamore (Barge), U57932, sunk by collision, 29 Jul 1901
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July 29, 1901. -- Whaleback barge SAGAMORE, ore-laden, sunk by collision off Point Iroquois, Lake Superior. Captain and two of his crew drowned.
      Wrecks on the Great Lakes
      Casualty List for 1901
      Marine Record
      January 11, 1902
      . . . . .
It is quite probable that the steel tow barge SAGAMORE, sunk above the Sault in a fog a few days ago by the Northern Steamship Co.'s steamer NORTHERN QUEEN, will not be recovered, as she is said to be in more than 70 ft. of water. This is the first total loss of importance in the present season. The SAGAMORE and her steamer, the PATHFINDER, were built in 1892 for Pickands, Mather & Co. of Cleveland and have been among the most successful vessels on the lakes.
      Marine Review
      August 1, 1901
      . . . . .

      Calumet, Mich., Oct. 27. - The wreck of the new steel steamer MORELAND on the Eagle River reef a week ago, is the sixteenth which has happened on the same spot in the past 16 years.
      Among the losses which have occurred on the dangerous reef, were the steamer J. H. PICKANDS in 1894. The boat and cargo and one member of the crew went down. Two years later the steamer COLORADO was lost there, and later while the tug FERN was salvaging at the scene, it was lost with five of its crew.
      There were many accidents of a minor nature and then came the stranding of the steamer URANUS. She was released but cost her owners $40,000 for repairs. Last August the steamer PATHFINDER with the barge SAGAMORE in tow, hit the rocks and another loss of nearly $50,000 was incurred. It is possible that the loss of the MORELAND will induce the Lake Carriers' Association to work for some kind of protection at the point.
      Buffalo Evening News
      October 27, 1910
      . . . . .
      SAGAMIORE, on July 29th. 1901 fog caused a fatal collision in Whitefish Bay where the Northern Steamship Lines steamer NORTHERN QUEEN rammed and sunk the downbound barge SAGAMORE off Point Iroquois, the SAGAMORE was the tow of the whaleback steamer PATHFINDER, the NORTHERN QUEEN struck the SAGAMORE on the starboard side, near the after turret, and the barge plunged to the bottom in 72 feet of water, taking Capt. E. Joiner and two men with her. Owned by Pickands, Nather & co. (Huron Barge Co.) of 1601 tons. 508 X 38, built 1892. total loss $90,000
      Shipwrecks of L.ake Superior 1900-1909
      Inland Seas Spring 1971
SAGAMORE - sank in 72 feet of water off Gras Cap Reef. Divers report she is intact & sitting on a gravel bottom, 30 to 40 feet visibility
      "Great Wrecks of the Great Lake"

      . . . . .
      by John J. Brosko as told to Teddy Remick.
      In 1962 Bob McCormick and I purchased our scuba equipment, joined the Chippewa Dolphins and thus started our training for new adventures. At club meetings the discussions always seemed to end with talks on shipwrecks, one in particular being listed on the U. S. Corps of Engineers chart as lying in Whitefish Bay near Gros Cap Reef, definitely snagged but as yet unidentified.
Bob and I were bitten hard by the wreck bug, so we started research on this mystery ship. We found she had been the topic of searches by both Canadian and American divers, and was listed as everything from a small tug to a barge with a house atop it. Early in May 1963 Bob, two other divers and I set our course for Whitefish Bay and the mystery ship. Arriving at a location determined from our computations on the Lake Survey chart, we dropped anchor, and found the water depth corresponded with the soundings indicated fot this area on the chart. So far everything was going perfectly, including good weather.
Our search pattern was to dive in pairs, tie a one hundred and fifty foot line to the anchor chain about ten feet from the bottom of the bay, one diver swimming on the end of the line,
the second fifty feet inside, making a 360 degree sweep around the chain with the aid of our compasses, in this mannet we covered a 300 foot diametet area.
On our first attempt to find the wreck, all we found was an old propeller blade. After almost three months of knocking ourselves out looking for this wreck, I suddenly remembered an engineer in the St. Mary's Branch, Soo Locks, where I am also employed. I told him of the wreck and my attempts to locate her at the same time asking for his aid in locating the vessel in question. With over twenty-one years of experience in survey work on these waters, he is very familar with all the ranges and guides, natural or man made. So with renewed vigor we were on another search for the wreck. Watching Bufe work at computa-tions, angles and guides I saw how amateurish we had been. He worked out three different fixes to work from, two gave no results. But on the third, just after starting our sweeping circle, I felt Bob's signal to come and view his findings, which was a large propeller blade, but no wreck.
Resuming out search pattern and completing about half the circle I again felt quick hurried jerks on the line, this time as I approached Bob, he was pointing excitedly ahead, but I saw nothing. I advanced a few more feet and BANG! THERE SHE WAS! We were on the bottom looking up at her. She was quite an impressive sight. It was apparent that she was a whaleback, sitting right side up on a very hard bottom entirely free of shoaling sand.
Our position was below the forward turret. She loomed above us about twenty-four feet plus the seven or eight feet of turret. This vessel was the first I had seen intact resting on the bottom, all others had been broken up wooden jobs you could hardly identify as once being ships.
As we made a brief inspection tour around her, I felt like I was observing some large, proud creature humbled by death. She had a snub nose snout with large tow cable eyes, and two snubbie buttons immediately aft of them. Ahead of the turret was the cable handling machinery. An open hatch immediately aft of the turret revealed the cargo of iron ore. Wanting to explore further we knew we had to surface and announce our discovery.
After a brief rest and with fresh air tanks we went below again with instructions from Bufe to swim to the stern and tie our float to the after extremity. With our boat over her bow we could determine her length. We swam from the bow which was intact toward the stern, unaware of her true disaster. After approximtely two thirds her length she was suddenly a mass of buckled, twisted steel! It was when we encountered the after turret that the area of impact from collision became obvious. Immediately forward of the after turret is really busted and flattened down so that the after turret and stern seems to be separated from the forward two-thirds of the ship. The many pipes, ladders, etc., jutting up through the iron ore and coal in this smashed area, indicate that she was hit right above the boiler room. The turret itself is not badly damaged, but all the wooen structure comprising the after navigation bridge and housing is gone from atop the turret. The two large wooden helms with their large brass hubs was a very impressive sight standing atop the turret. On hitting the bottom her rudder shaft was shoved up through the deck where it projects about eight feet up.
In the wrecked boiler room we saw a large steel door, which was buckled in its frame. Unable to pry this door open, we gained entrance into the galley and crews quarters through a square hatch located inside the after turret, in the center of the deck. This area is an awful mess, with all the galley equipment, apparently knocked loose during the impact of collision, lying in a disheveled condition along with the wooden wainscoting that had lined the bulkheads.
      We could not locate her name anywhere, and truthfully didn't know where to look. We would have to scrape the hull to find the name plate as she was covered with a reddish rust and blisters. When our air supply was exhausted, we headed for the surface very relucantly for there were so many things we wanted to know.
      To determine what name our wreck has carried in life, we went to the library and checked "Shipwrecks of the lakes" by Dana T. Bowen for a clue to the identity. We found no ship listed
as being down in Whitefish Bay. We returned to the wreck, for the express purpose of learning her identity. We had no trouble re-locating her. We snagged her right on the bow. With wire brushes in hand, we made a thorough inspection of the forward end for a name but to no avail so headed for her stern. Bob figured her name would be on the snub nose. We started wire-brushing this atea and sure enough, white painted letters began to appear and spelled our her name SAGAMORE!
Back on shore we checked our Lake Superior wreck list, there she was "July 29, 1901, barge SAGAMORE lost on Lake Superior following a collision. Two lives lost, Captain E. C. Joiner and Ira Ives the Steward."
      From our many subsequent trips down to the SAGAMORE we have recovered the two helms, brass rudder indicator, steam whistle and several port hole covers (all with broken glass) a number of brass valves and a very wide variety of galleyware, plus one of the steel capstan heads. We still have a lot of scratching around to do, as we blew off that buckled steel door in 1965.
      The SAGAMORE was a whaleback bulk freight barge, built in 1892 at West Superior, Wisconsin, hull number 122, by A. McDougall. Length 308 feet, beam 38 feet, and 24 foot depth, gross tonnage 1601, net tonnage 1557.
      She was rammed and sunk while lying at anchor off Pt. Iroquois, Whitefish Bay, waiting for fog to lift. She was in company with her steamer, the whaleback PATHFINDER. Both vessels loaded with ore, were down bound. PATHFINDER was not hit.
      . . . . .
      SAGAMORE. Built July 23, 1892 Whaleback Barge - Steel
U. S. No. 57932. 1601 gt - 1557 nt 308.0 x 38.0 x 24.0
Sunk in collision with steamer NORTHERN QUEEN, July 29, 1901, near Point Iroquois, Whitefish Bay, Lake Superior.
      American Barge Co., Superior, Wis., Master Shipbuilding List
      Institute for Great Lakes research
      Perrysburg, Ohio.

Media Type
Item Type
Reason: sunk by collision
Lives: 3
Freight: ore
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original
Local identifier
Language of Item
Geographic Coverage
  • Michigan, United States
    Latitude: 46.48419 Longitude: -84.63117
William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Sagamore (Barge), U57932, sunk by collision, 29 Jul 1901