Mackinaw City in Cheboygan County, Michigan — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
Shipwrecks in the Straits
Mackinaw City Historical Pathway
When mankind took to the water, shipwrecks were inevitable.
As long as canoes and boats have sailed the Great Lakes there have been shipwrecks. Many have occurred in the Straits of Mackinac with its narrow channels, shoals, and harsh and changing weather.
As shipping increased in the 1840s and 50s so did the number of shipwrecks. But man responded with better aids such as lighthouses, fog signals, weather forecasts, and charts. Most of the shipwrecks in the Straits occurred before 1890 and were wooden-hulled sailing vessels. Modern shipwrecks are infrequent.
The western entrance to the Straits has been the most dangerous.
Waters swirl and froth around White Shoal Lighthouse where the north-south fetch of Lake Michigan encounters the east-west expanse of the Straits. This transition zone is dotted with hidden shoals. Hence, more Straits shipwrecks have occurred in Lake Michigan than in Lake Huron and most have been caused by running aground.
Fall is the season of high winds, turbulent seas, and shipwrecks.
July and August have the fewest shipwrecks, not unexpectedly, given that those
• The Eber Ward turned east entering the Straits and hit ice, hard enough to sink within 10 minutes in 1909.
• The Barnum settled to the bottom after an encounter with spring ice in the Straits in 1894.
Erected 2014 by Mackinaw City Historical Pathway.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Disasters • Waterways & Vessels.
Location. 45° 47.243′ N, 84° 43.687′ W. Marker is in Mackinaw City, Michigan, in Cheboygan County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of North Huron Avenue and Henry Street when traveling north. Marker is located along the Mackinaw City Historical Pathway, on the east side of Alexander Henry Park, overlooking the Mackinac Bridge and the Straits of Mackinac. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 518 North Huron Avenue, Mackinaw City MI 49701, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Crossroads of the Great Lakes (here, next to this marker); Building Mighty Mac (within shouting distance of this marker); Graveyard of the DeepAlexander Henry 1739 - 1834 (within shouting distance of this marker); Alexander Henry Park Kiosk (within shouting distance of this marker); Fog Signal Station (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse (about 400 feet away); Lighthouses of the Mackinac Straits (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Mackinaw City.
Also see . . .
1. The Eber Ward Shipwreck. The Eber Ward left her winter quarters in Chicago and picked up a cargo of corn in Milwaukee, bound for Port Huron. There was still ice in the Straits, and on the bright spring morning of April 20, 1909 the Captain faced a field of slush and windrow ice that appeared to be no obstacle to navigation. The Ward’s bow was torn open by the ice and she sank within ten minutes, taking one lifeboat and five crewmen to their death. (Submitted on April 4, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
2. The William H. Barnum Shipwreck. The Barnum left Chicago harbor on April Fools Day 1894 loaded with corn for Port Huron. The Barnum (Submitted on April 4, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
Credits. This page was last revised on October 18, 2019. It was originally submitted on April 4, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 125 times since then and 7 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on April 4, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. 4. submitted on October 17, 2019, by Joel Seewald of Madison Heights, Michigan.