On October 11, 1871, a terrific gale struck Northern Lake Michigan, stranding many vessels on the shoals and reefs in that region of the lake. One of these unfortunate vessels was the iron ore laden schooner, W.S. LYONS.
The W.S. LYONS was a 136’ two-masted schooner and she was built at Lorain, Ohio in 1866 on the banks of the Black River. She was named after her builder, Winfield S. Lyons.
Soon after the W.S. LYON’s grounding, the salvage tug MAGNET was sent out to pull her off the shoal. But, with other vessels needing assistance also, the W.S. LYONS had to wait her turn. Further complicating her rescue was the weight of her cargo, iron ore loaded at Escanaba. Soon another gale erupted and the W.S. LYONS was damaged further. This fact, coupled with how late in the shipping season it was, led to the decision to abandon the LYON’s hull. The MAGNET stripped the crippled schooner of her masts, rigging, anchors, chain and any other items that could be pulled off her and she soon disappeared beneath surface of the water.
The wreck site of what is believed to be the W.S. LYONS was discovered in May of 2018 by Ross Richardson. The site is in 50’ of water and less than a mile from the White Shoal Light. The wreckage is consistent with vessels of this vintage and some areas of the sprawling wreck site have not been explored at the time of this writing. The side of a large sailing vessel and the possible centerboard trunk have been photographed. Sonar image appear to show a keel of a vessel, possibly covered in iron ore, nearby.
In an attempt to crowd source the identification and documentation of this remote wreck site, the coordinates will be make available to the public in early 2020. Please check back here in the near future for more details.