a shipwreck rests on its side just below the surface
A scuba diver looms above the boiler at the site of Monohansett.

Vessel Type: Motor: wooden steam barge

GPS Location: N45° 01.996’ W83° 11.988’

Depth: 18 feet

Wreck Length: 160 feet

Beam: 30 feet

Gross Tonnage: 572

Cargo: Coal

Launched: 1872 by Linn and Craig at Gibraltar, Michigan

Wrecked: November 23, 1907

Mooring Buoy Data

Description: On the night of November 23, 1907, the freighter Monohansett hid behind Thunder Bay Island to avoid gale-force winds sweeping across Lake Huron. Shortly after 10:00 p.m., alarms sounded when one of the crew members reported fire. An oil lantern had tipped over, and a blaze quickly spread. It was the crew’s worst nightmare—the Monohansett’s old timbers were primed for burning, and the ship was loaded with 900 tons of highly flammable coal. The freighter became a furnace, and the crew had no choice but to abandon ship.

Tragedy was averted thanks to the daring crew of the Thunder Bay Island Life-Saving Station. Seeing the ship ablaze, the lifesavers swiftly rescued Monohansett’s crew. Had the freighter been on the open lake, many would have perished in Lake Huron’s cold November waters. The ship’s only lifeboat, a small yawl, would not have held all 12 crew members.

Monohansett is one of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary’s most popular shipwreck sites to visit. Today, the wreck rests in clear, shallow water just off Thunder Bay Island. It is regularly visited by divers, snorkelers, swimmers, paddlers, and a glass bottom boat, all of which come to see its wooden hull, boilers, and machinery.

Great Lakes Maritime Collection digital archive:

Explore the shallow site of the sunken Monohansett in this video.
a diver floats above a shipwreck
A scuba diver swims towards the stern of the wooden freighter Monohansett.
The propeller of a shipwreck
The intact stern and propeller of the freighter Monohansett.
A diagram of a shipwreck
Archaeological site plan of the wooden freighter Monohansett.