a wooden shipwreck rests tilted to one side
The bow of the shipwreck Northwestern

Vessel Type: Sail: wooden brig

GPS Location: N45°26.885’ W83°41.817'

Depth: 135 feet

Wreck Length: 115 feet

Gross Tonnage: 393

Cargo: Salt

Launched: 1847 by Andrew Miller at Oswego, New York

Wrecked: September 30, 1850

Mooring Buoy Data

Description: On a clear September night in 1850, the schooner Northwestern traveled up Lake Huron with a load of salt. Several miles north of Presque Isle, the schooner’s lookout spotted a down-bound steamship traveling on a collision course with the schooner. Since passing nearby ships was routine along Lake Huron’s busy shipping lanes, Northwestern simply adjusted its course to steer clear of the passing steamer.

Meanwhile, onboard steamship Monticello, a light was spotted in the distance. The officer on watch, confused about his ship's actual location, mistook this light for that of the Old Presque Isle Lighthouse and changed course. The light belonged to Northwestern. Monticello's altered course drove it straight into the side of Northwestern. Unable to sustain the impact by the larger and heavier steamship, the schooner quickly sank. Its crew of eight evacuated safely and were rescued.

Preserved by the cold, fresh water of Lake Huron, Northwestern rests upright in 135 feet of water. Discovered in 2004 by sport divers, the small schooner leans to its starboard side. A great dive site, Northwestern is intact from stem to stern, although the masts have toppled over to the starboard side.

a diver holds a camera with a shipwreck in the background
A diver circles the bow of the shipwreck Northwestern