Northern Light

wood from a shipwreck extends from shallow water
Some shipwrecks, like Northern Light, are located in shallow areas and become exposed during changes in the lake level
wood from a shipwreck extends from shallow water
Timbers of the Northern Light shipwreck are visible above the water line when lake levels are low

Vessel Type: Barge

GPS Location: N44° 39.616’ W83° 17.209’

Depth: 2 feet

Wreck Length: 211 feet

Beam: 30 feet

Gross Tonnage: 857

Cargo: None

Launched: 1858 by Lafrinier and Stevenson in Cleveland, Ohio

Wrecked: August 1881

Mooring Buoy Data

Description: Northern Light was originally built in 1858 as a passenger and package freight propeller to service the Cleveland-Lake Superior route. Steamships like Northern Light delivered people, manufactured goods, and supplies to burgeoning Lake Superior ports, returning with passengers and cargos of copper and iron ore. With predictable schedules made possible by the reliability of their steam engines, and the capacity to carry diverse cargo and passengers, these steamships became the vessel of choice to support early industry and communities on Lake Superior.

In its later years, Northern Light served as a barge that carried lumber across the Great Lakes. In 1881, Northern Light ran aground and was stranded at the northern end of present-day Harrisville Marina. It was abandoned and left exposed to the damaging effects of Lake Huron, collapsing beneath the waves two years later. When lake water levels are low, Northern Light’s broken remains occasionally surface and can be seen from the marina’s parking lot.

Great Lakes Maritime Collection digital archive: