Manistee (shipwreck)

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This article is about the ship that sank near the Apostle Islands, not to be confused with the other shipwreck of the same name at Spring Lake, Michigan. For this ship's namesake city, see: Manistee, Michigan.
Manistee in port.jpg
The Manistee prior to her sinking
Name: Manistee
Namesake: Manistee, Michigan
Port of registry: Flag of the United States.svg United States
Builder: E. M. Peck, Cleveland, Ohio
Laid down: 1867
Launched: 1867
Fate: Disappeared November 10, 1883
General characteristics
Type: Packet steamer
Tonnage: 677 gross tonnage
Length: 154 feet (47 m), later extended to 184 feet (56 m)
Crew: About 23

Manistee was a packet steamer that disappeared on Lake Superior on November 10, 1883. She was presumed to have sunk, with no surviving crew or passengers. The cause remains a mystery, and her wreckage has not been found.


Manistee was built in 1867 by E. M. Peck Shipbuilders, of Cleveland, Ohio. Originally, she measured 154 feet (46.9 meters) in length, but she was later lengthened to 184 feet (56.1 meters), and she was rated at 677 gross tons.[1]

Originally, the vessel was operated by the Engelman Line and carried cargo and passengers between her home port of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and her namesake city, Manistee, Michigan. In 1872, the ship came to Duluth, Minnesota, and she eventually was put in service for the Leopold and Austrian Line, her final owners.[1]

The long and interesting career of Manistee came to an end on an autumn Saturday in 1883, when the ship left Duluth for Ontonagon, Michigan. The 400 tons of cargo included items such as flour, mill goods, furniture, and general merchandise. Shortly after she left Duluth, a violent northwest gale developed on the western portion of Lake Superior. Her captain, John McKay, decided to seek temporary shelter near Bayfield, Wisconsin, until the winds subsided. The storm lasted for four days. On the fifth day of his Bayfield stay, McKay decided to venture back out towards Ontanagon. However, this proved to be a mistake, as the ship disappeared somewhere near the Apostle Islands after leaving Bayfield.

The cause of the sinking, the location of the wreck, and even the exact number of missing passengers is in question. Different theories as to the ship′s fate were discussed in an article in the Bayfield County Press on November 24, 1883, when the story was first reported by the local media.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Keller, James M. The Unholy Apostles. pp. 27–32. ISBN 0-933577-001.