Saturday, April 20, 2024

New Lake Huron Shipwreck Found: The Ironton


The sailing ship Ironton has been located beneath the waters of Lake Huron within the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

The work to find the wreck was a collaborative effort between the U.S. state of Michigan and the Ocean Exploration Trust.

Amazingly, the Ironton which is 191ft/~58m long and sank in September 1894, is fantastically preserved, with its three main masts still standing upright over 125 years later. Tragically, the ship sank after a collision that claimed the lives of five of the crew. After being cut adrift, the Ironton collided with the steamer Ohio, which also sank, but thankfully the 16 souls on board escaped in lifeboats.

Commenting on the new finding, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary Superintendent Jeff Gray said:

“The discovery illustrates how we can use the past to create a better future. Using this cutting-edge technology, we have not only located a pristine shipwreck lost for over a century, we are also learning more about one of our nation’s most important natural resources — the Great Lakes. This research will help protect Lake Huron and its rich history.”

While Sandra Clark, the co-manager of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and director of the Michigan History Center added:

“Discoveries like this are fascinating because they connect people to Michigan’s long history of maritime innovation and commerce. The more we discover, the more we understand the lives of the men and women who worked the Great Lakes.”

The legendary Dr. Robert Ballard, the founder of the Ocean Exploration Trust, said:

“Our team is proud to partner with the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries to bring innovative technology and expedition expertise to map the Great Lakes. Ironton is yet another piece of the puzzle of Alpena’s fascinating place in America’s history of trade and Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary continues to reveal lost chapters of maritime history. We look forward to continuing to explore sanctuaries and with our partners reveal the history found in the underwater world to inspire future generations.”

Sam Helmy
Sam Helmy
Sam Helmy is a TDI/SDI Instructor Trainer, and PADI Staff and Trimix Instructor. Diving for 28 years, a dive pro for 14, I have traveled extensively chasing my passion for diving. I am passionate about everything diving, with a keen interest in exploration, Sharks and big stuff, Photography and Decompression theory. Diving is definitely the one and only passion that has stayed with me my whole life! Sam is a Staff Writer for