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
Pretoria (schooner).png
Launching of Pretoria
Pretoria (ship) is located in Wisconsin
Pretoria (ship)
Pretoria (ship) is located in the US
Pretoria (ship)
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, 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:

Pretoria at a dock.

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][2]


  1. ^ National Park Service (2006-03-15). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  2. ^ a b "Pretoria (1900)". Great Lakes Shipwrecks.
  3. ^ Keller, James H. The Unholy Apostles. pp. 107–112. ISBN 0-933577-001.