Joseph S. Fay
Vessel Type: Motor: bulk freighter
GPS Location: N45°29.317’ W83° 54.600’
Depth: 17 feet
Wreck Length: 216 feet
Beam: 34 feet
Gross Tonnage: 1221
Cargo: Iron Ore
Launched: 1871 by Quayle and Martin at Cleveland, Ohio
Wrecked: October 19, 1905
"I have sailed for seven years…but Thursday night was my worst experience”
– George Rinley, surviving crew member
On October 19, 1905, the wooden freighter Joseph S. Fay set sail from Escanaba, Michigan, in calm, clear weather. Destined for Cleveland, Ohio, Joseph S. Fay towed the barge D.P. Rhodes. As the ships sailed down Lake Huron, both heavily loaded with iron ore, the weather changed dramatically. Winds exceeded 60 miles an hour, and Joseph S. Fay struggled to maintain a steady course as waves crashed over the decks. Unable to steer, Joseph S. Fay and D.P. Rhodes were at the mercy of Lake Huron. The towline to the barge was cut in a desperate attempt to save Joseph S. Fay. The storm drove D.P. Rhodes ashore, but the storm was still too fierce for Joseph S. Fay. After a massive wave washed Joseph S. Fay’s mate overboard to his death, the remaining crew escaped in a lifeboat as the freighter quickly sank.
Today, the broken remains of Joseph S. Fay are a fascinating archaeological and recreational site. Most of the wreck is located in 19 feet of clear water only 300 yards from shore, ideal for divers, snorkelers, and paddlers to explore. If you want to stay dry, look at the section of the wreck located on shore.
Joseph S. Fay is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Great Lakes Maritime Collection digital archive: http://greatlakeships.org/2901051/data?n=1