Marine City

A black and white photo of an old paddle wheel ship
Historic image of the steamer Marine City at the dock. Image courtesy Great Lakes Maritime Collection, Alpena County George N. Fletcher Public Library

Vessel Type: Motor: paddle wheeler

GPS Location: N44°46.237’ W83°17.366’

Depth: 5 feet

Wreck Length: 192 feet

Beam: 28 feet

Gross Tonnage: 695

Cargo: Shingles, fish, and passengers

Launched: 1866 by P.L. and Arnold Lester at Marine City, Michigan

Wrecked: August 29, 1880

Mooring Buoy Data

Description: “BURNED ON LAKE HURON” was the headline in the Sarnia Observer (1880). On August 29, 1880, the sidewheel passenger vessel Marine City steamed across Lake Huron. While just off Sturgeon Point, passengers and crew noticed smoke coming from the engine room. In very little time, the fire engulfed the ship. As thick smoke poured from Marine City, panic broke out among the passengers, and they began to leap into the water to escape the fire. Fortunately, the heroic actions of the vessel’s crew, nearby vessels, and the Sturgeon Point Lifesaving Station prevented a total disaster. The entire crew survived, but 5 of the nearly 150 passengers were listed as lost.

The blaze burned the steamer to the waterline. The remains of Marine City now rest in about three feet of water. While the fire devoured most of the upper hull and cabins, the lower hull, boiler fragments, and machinery remain to be explored by divers, snorkelers, and paddlers.

Great Lakes Maritime Collection digital archive:

debris from a shipwreck sticks out of shallow water near a shore
Remains of the boiler and other machinery lie exposed at the wreck site of the paddle wheel steamer Marine City.