A painting of a steam ship
An artist's depiction of the ships Pewabic and Meteor. Image: Robert McGreevy

Ship Stats

sonar image of a shipwreck
Sonar image of Pewabic

Vessel Type: Motor: twin screw wooden passenger and freight steamer

GPS Location: N44°57.890' W83° 06.236'

Depth: 165 feet

Wreck Length: 200 feet

Beam: 31 feet

Gross Tonnage: 979

Cargo: Copper and iron ore; passengers

Launched: 1863 by Peck and Masters at Cleveland, Ohio

Wrecked: August 9, 1865

Mooring Buoy Data

Description: “The pitiful cries of the drowning, struggling for help, are still in my memory, and will remain with me while memory lasts.” - Meteor chief engineer John Croneweth

Violent storms, ice, and fog claimed thousands of ships on the Great Lakes. The loss of the steamer Pewabic due to a collision with its sister ship Meteor, however, resulted from bad decisions, not bad weather. The sister ships Pewabic and Meteor regularly passed each other between Lakes Superior and Erie, often exchanging news and mail. On the calm evening of August 9, 1865, this meeting proved tragic. A few miles south of Thunder Bay Island, Pewabic’s wheelsman suddenly turned his vessel into the path of the oncoming Meteor. Meteor’s heavy bow cut a huge gash into the side of Pewabic. Some passengers leaped to Meteor, but within minutes Pewabic vanished beneath the waves.

Although Meteor rescued many of the estimated 150 passengers, at least 35 drowned in Thunder Bay’s worst maritime disaster. Today Pewabic is a gravesite and silent memorial to those who died in its sinking and salvage. Pewabic is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Great Lakes Maritime Collection digital archive:

360 Virtual Dive:

A view of the entire Pewabic wreck
Photomosaic of Pewabic
A view beneath Pewabics deck
A view beneath Pewabic's deck shows the shipwreck encrusted with invasive mussels.
Arch structures from a shipwreck
A view of Pewabic's hogging arch.
A diver poses for a photo in a shipwreck
A diver explores the stern of the shipwreck Pewabic