John L. Shaw

A diver takes measurements of a shipwreck
A diver measures and documents the wreckage John L. Shaw

Vessel Type: Sail: three-masted schooner

GPS Location: N44° 37.000’ W83° 08.000’

Depth: 128 feet

Wreck Length: 217 feet

Beam: 39 feet

Gross Tonnage: 928

Cargo: Coal

Launched: 1885 in West Bay City, Michigan

Wrecked: November 13, 1894

Mooring Buoy Data

Description: On November 13, 1894, the steamer John F. Eddy towed the massive 217-foot schooner John L. Shaw across Lake Huron. Headed for Chicago with a load of coal, the ships encountered a blinding snowstorm off Harrisville. The tow line between the two ships parted and the helpless Shaw began taking on water. The crew abandoned ship and drifted in their lifeboat for several hours before being rescued by a passing steamer. The violent storm claimed Shaw.

The wreck was located a few years later by a wrecking company, though planned recovery never happened. The wreck was forgotten until July 2007, when local fisherman John Gauthier stumbled across the site while setting nets. Located about seven miles from shore in 130 feet of water, the remains of the lost schooner offer an incredible opportunity for recreational divers. While the vessel’s enormous hull stands nearly intact, the schooner’s starboard side has fallen away and rests flat on the bottom.

Great Lakes Maritime Collection digital archive:

360 Virtual Dive:

A diver swims above a shipwreck
A diver swims over the deck of John L. Shaw, a broken mast in the foreground.
Site plan for John L. Shaw
Archaeological site plan of John L. Shaw.
A diver swims above a shipwreck
A diver measures and documents the wreckage John L. Shaw.