Sevona (shipwreck)

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Coordinates: 47°00.410′N 90°54.520′W / 47.006833°N 90.908667°W / 47.006833; -90.908667

An early 1880's sketch of the Lucerne
The Sevona was a relatively large ship.
Name: Sevona
Owner: James McBrier, and Donald Sutherland McDonald (second owners)
Operator: Captain Donald Sutherland McDonald
Port of registry: Flag of the United States.svg United States
Builder: Built in 1890 at West Bay City, Michigan
Laid down: September 5, 1905
Launched: 1890
Fate: Shipwrecked near Sand Island
Status: Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1991
Notes: Location: 47°00.410′N 90°54.520′W / 47.006833°N 90.908667°W / 47.006833; -90.908667[1]
General characteristics
Type: Steamboat
Tonnage: 728 gross tons
Length: Originally 300 feet (91 m), later extended to 373 feet (114 m)
Beam: 41 feet
Depth of hold: 21 feet
Notes: The ship contained the first electric searchlight ever used on America's inland lakes.

The Sevona was a steamboat that sank in Lake Superior off the coast of Sand Island in Bayfield County, Wisconsin, United States. The wreckage site was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1993.[2]


The Sevona, originally named the Emily P. Weed, launched in 1890.[3] She was renamed the Sevona in 1897.

On September 1, 1905 Sevona left Allouez, Wisconsin. She was bound for Erie, Pennsylvania and was carrying cargo made up of iron ore and a crew of twenty men and four women.[4] Later that night, an unexpected storm hit the area. By midnight, the wind had reached gale-level strengths. At around 6:00 AM on the morning of September 2, the Sevona ran aground on a shoal, breaking the ship in half.[5] No other vessel was in the area to aid the Sevona, so the crew at the stern of the ship boarded the lifeboats. The crew at the bow, separated from the lifeboats, were forced to construct a raft out of hatch covers and doors. All crew members on the makeshift raft later lost their lives in the storm.[6] Three other vessels, including the Pretoria, were lost in the storm.

In 1909, the wreckage was blown up with dynamite by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, who were concerned about navigation hazards the wreckage could cause.[7] Several parts of the ship were recovered and brought to shore following the explosion, but what was left would become a popular site for scuba diving.[8] The site is managed jointly by the Wisconsin Historical Society, the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.[9]

Sam Fifield, a former Lieutenant governor of Wisconsin, had a summer resort on Sand Island, and salvaged some of the wreckage of the Sevona. With this material, he built a house on Sand Island, and named it the Sevona Memorial Cottage. The house still stands today, and has undergone some preservation work over the years.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Great Lakes Shipwrecks". Retrieved 21 July 2013. 
  2. ^ "Wisconsin - Bayfield County - Vacant / Not In Use". National Register of Historic Retrieved 2012-01-24. 
  3. ^ "Service History". Wisconsin Retrieved 2012-01-24. 
  4. ^ "Final Voyage page 1". Wisconsin Retrieved 2012-01-24. 
  5. ^ "Final Voyage page 2". Wisconsin Retrieved 2012-01-24. 
  6. ^ "Final Voyage page 3". Wisconsin Retrieved 2012-01-24. 
  7. ^ "Final Voyage page 5". Wisconsin Retrieved 2012-01-24. 
  8. ^ "Today page 1". Wisconsin Retrieved 2012-01-24. 
  9. ^ "Today page 2". Wisconsin Retrieved 2012-01-24. 
  10. ^ Keller, James M. The Unholy Apostles. pp. 95–106. ISBN 0-933577-001.