Pretoria (ship)

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Coordinates: 47°05.36′N 90°23.66′W / 47.08933°N 90.39433°W / 47.08933; -90.39433

Pretoria (schooner-barge) Shipwreck Site
Nearest city Bayfield, Wisconsin
Area 47°05.36′N 90°23.66′W / 47.08933°N 90.39433°W / 47.08933; -90.39433 [2]
Architect Davidson, James
MPS Great Lakes Shipwreck Sites of Wisconsin MPS
NRHP reference # 94000835 [1]
Added to NRHP August 17, 1994
Pretoria at a dock.

Pretoria, an American schooner-barge, was one of the largest wooden ships ever constructed. She was 103 meters (338 ft) long, had a beam of 13.4 meters (44 ft), and 7 meters (23 ft) in depth. She was built by James Davidson in West Bay City, Michigan, for use on the Great Lakes. The Saginaw, Michigan newspaper The Courier-Herald described Pretoria's launch on July 26, 1900, in the following way:

The schooner Pretoria, the largest wooden boat ever built, was launched at Davidson's shipyard this afternoon, in the presence of a vast multitude.

The Pretoria will carry 5,000 tons of iron ore, 175,000 bushels of wheat, or 300,000 bushels of oats...

To strengthen her wooden frame and hull, Pretoria was constructed using steel keelson plates, steel chords, and steel arches. She also was strapped diagonally with steel. She needed a donkey engine to run a pump to keep her interior dry.

On 1 September 1905, Pretoria took on cargo at a pier in Superior, Wisconsin. Another notable ship, the lake freighter Sevona, took on cargo at the same pier shortly after Pretoria. Both ships sank the very next day near the Apostle Islands when a legendary gale sent them to the bottom of Lake Superior.[3][4][5]


  1. ^ National Park Service (2006-03-15). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ "Great Lakes Shipwrecks". Retrieved 22 July 2013. 
  3. ^ Keller, James H. The Unholy Apostles. pp. 107–112. ISBN 0-933577-001. 
  4. ^ Wisconsin's Great Lakes Shipwrecks: Pretoria University of Wisconsin–Madison Sea Grant Institute and Wisconsin Historical Society, 2003
  5. ^ "Final Voyage". Wisconsin Shipwrecks. Retrieved 13 December 2009.