Baileys Harbor in Door County, Wisconsin — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
Schooner Christina Nilsson
— Wisconsin's Maritime Trails —
Type: wooden schooner
Built: 1871, Hanson & Scove, Manitowoc, Wis.
Sank: Oct. 24, 1884
Cargoes: pig iron
Propulsion: sail, three-masted
Depth of wreckage: 15'
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.
The Christina Nilsson typifies the vast fleet of Great Lakes schooners built after the Civil War. Serving as the semi-trucks of their day, these vessels ferried bulk goods and cargoes throughout the Great Lakes. Named after a renowned Swedish diva, the three-masted schooner Christina Nilsson spent her career carrying grain and iron bulk cargoes.
Her final voyage began on October 23, 1884, when she cleared Escanaba, Michigan, carrying 575 tons of pig iron bound for Chicago. By the time the Nilsson passed the Sturgeon Bay ship canal, the weather had deteriorated into a blinding snowstorm with gale force winds and high seas. Unable to see the entrance of the canal, Captain N.A. Hammer turned the Nilsson north in an attempt to outrun the storm and seek the protective shelter of Baileys Harbor.
As the schooner fought her way toward relative safety, the gale and the blinding blizzard forced her dangerously close to the east shore of Baileys Harbor. At 8:30 A.M. on October 24, 1884, the Christina Nilsson struck Outer Reef and began to founder. She soon sank in 15 feet of water, where the waves on the reef literally pounded her to pieces. All eight crew members abandoned the stricken vessel and made their way to shore in the Nilsson's yawl boat. No lives were lost.
Lying on the reef just off the Old Baileys Harbor Lighthouse, the wreck of the Christina Nilsson illustrates the dangers of navigating the Great Lakes in the nineteenth-century. The Nilsson's close proximity to shore, shallow depth and easy accessibility make it an ideal site for for divers, kayakers, and snorkelers to discover the history beneath Lake Michigan's waves. The main site is marked by a Wisconsin Historical Society seasonal shipwreck mooring buoy.
logos of: Wisconsin Historical Society, Sea Grant · University of Wisconsin
Title to Wisconsin's submerged archaeological sites is held in public trust by the State of Wisconsin. As steward of these unique historical and recreational resources, the Wisconsin Historical Society encourages responsible diver visitation of these sites. Please leave these sites intact for
This marker was produced with funds from the Federal Highway Administration's Transportation Enhancement Program, administered through the Wisconsin Department of transportation.
CAUTION: Dive at your own risk. Sea Grant and the Wisconsin Historical Society accept no responsibility for loss of any kind including personal injury or property damage. In case of emergency, contact the Coast Guard by marine radio channel 16 or by phone at (414) 747-7182. For diving emergencies, call Divers Alert Network at (919) 684-8111.
Erected by the Wisconsin Historical Society's Maritime Preservation and Archaeology Program.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Waterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the Wisconsin’s Maritime Trails series list. A significant historical month for this entry is October 1827.
Location. 45° 3.949′ N, 87° 7.398′ W. Marker is in Baileys Harbor, Wisconsin, in Door County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of State Highway 57 and County Road F / EE, on the right when traveling north. Marker is on the overlook Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 8132 Highway 57, Baileys Harbor WI 54202, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 5 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Baileys Harbor Town Marina (here, next to this marker); War Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); August Zahn Residence (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); 8068 Hwy. 57 (approx. 0.2 miles away); 8064 Hwy. 57 (approx. 0.2 miles away); Baileys Harbor Lower Range Light (approx. 0.4 miles away); Steamer Frank O'Connor (approx. 4 miles away); Halfway to the North Pole (approx. 4.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Baileys Harbor.
More about this marker. captions:
• The schooner Moonlight, similar to the Great Lakes schooner Christina Nilsson Photo Credit: Milwaukee Public Museum
• Through the Maritime Trails, the Wisconsin Historical Society and Wisconsin Sea Grant are working with local communities to preserve our maritime heritage. To learn more, visit www.maritimetrails.org.
• The remnants of the ship's bilge pump system
• One of the Christina Nilsson's mast steps
Also see . . .
1. Wisconsin Maritime Trails. (Submitted on June 9, 2014.)
2. Christina Nilsson (shipwreck). Wikipedia entry. (Submitted on June 9, 2014.)
3. Christina Nilsson. Swedish operatic soprano. Wikipedia entry. (Submitted on June 9, 2014.)
Additional keywords. National Register of Historic Places #03000668
Credits. This page was last revised on August 12, 2021. It was originally submitted on June 9, 2014, by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 493 times since then and 30 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on June 9, 2014, by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin.