American Union

aerial of American Union
Aerial view of the American Union shipwreck with mooring buoy.

Vessel Type: Sail: three-masted barkentine

GPS Location: N45°21.412’ W83°35.368’

Depth: 10 Feet

Wreck Length: 185 Feet

Beam: 25 Feet

Gross Tonnage: 543

Cargo: Unknown

Built: 1862 by Ira Lafrinier at Cleveland, Ohio

Wrecked: May 6, 1894

Mooring Buoy Data

Description: Larger than the typical sailing craft of the time, the 186-foot, wooden American Union’s giant size ultimately led to its demise. After 30 years of service on the Great Lakes, the American Union encountered a fatal storm on May 6, 1894. Strong winds and pounding waves drove the 3-masted barkentine aground at Thompson’s Harbor. Crew from the Thunder Bay Island Life-Saving Station came to the ship’s aid and rescued the entire crew. Lake Huron eventually tore the American Union to pieces.

Today, the wreckage of the American Union rests a quarter mile from shore in 10 feet of crystal, clear Lake Huron water. The remains of the ship’s hull offer an incredible opportunity for divers, snorkelers and paddlers to explore a workhorse of the Great Lakes.

Great Lakes Maritime Collection digital archive:

360 Virtual Dive:

Research diver taking notes on American Union
A diver records hull construction details on the American Union shipwreck
snorkeler on American Union
A snorkeler examines timbers and fasteners on the American Union shipwreck.