the wreck of the Minnehaha

a bit of history can be found right off the shore at Camp Arcadia, in the northwest part of Michigan’s lower peninsula, where I just spent a week for vacation with my family.  probably no more than 20-feet from the shore, currently maybe 2 feet deep under the waters of Lake Michigan, rests the remains of the Minnehaha, a 200-ft 4-masted schooner that shipwrecked off the coast more than a hundred years ago. (link to more historical information)

The Minnehaha was a 4-masted, 200 foot, wooden schooner carrying 823 gross tons and 782 net tons…In October of 1893, the steam barge Henry J. Johnson was towing the Minnehaha from Chicago bound for Point Edward at the south end of Lake Huron with 58,000 bushels of corn. At 7:30 PM on October 13, the two ships found themselves off Point Betsie facing 90 mile per hour gale force winds….The Minnehaha ran aground about a quarter of a mile offshore between Burnham and Arcadia. To avoid the waves sweeping the decks, all but one member of the crew, who drowned trying to swim to shore, climbed into the ship’s rigging. As the ship was breaking up, the captain called to the crew to grab whatever would float and go over the side anyway. But only the captain made it to shore safely. One crew member made it to a pier, but was too tired to hold onto a pole used to try to pull him to safety.

Here are some pictures that I have taken over the last few years of vacationing there:

August 2009




in the 3rd picture, you can see the shadows of the shipwreck in the foreground, between my brother-in-law’s Sandpiper 8 sailboat and the beach.  as you can see, the remains of the Minnehaha is very close to the shore.

September 2004

Img09 (52)_edited

Img09 (51)

It’s interesting to see how the water level of the lake changes over the years – note in these pictures from 5 years ago, how low the lake levels were – parts of the shipwrecked Minnehaha were actually above the surface of the water, but now in 2009, there is probably at least 24 inches of water above the shipwreck.


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