SS Appomattox

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Appomattox (Shipwreck)
Appomattox ore carrier.jpg
SS Appomattox is located in Wisconsin
SS Appomattox
SS Appomattox is located in the US
SS Appomattox
Nearest city Shorewood, Wisconsin
Coordinates 43°5′37.09″N 87°51′58.35″W / 43.0936361°N 87.8662083°W / 43.0936361; -87.8662083Coordinates: 43°5′37.09″N 87°51′58.35″W / 43.0936361°N 87.8662083°W / 43.0936361; -87.8662083
Architect Davidson, James
NRHP Reference # 04001547 [1]
Added to NRHP January 20, 2005

SS Appomattox was an American bulk cargo steamship and one of the largest wooden ships ever built.


Appomattox had a length of 319 feet (97.2 m) and a beam of 42 feet (12.8 m).[2][3] She was built in 1896 by James Davidson of West Bay City, Michigan, and was fitted with a triple expansion steam engine. Because of her immense length, Appomattox used metallic cross bracing, a metallic keelson, metallic plates, and multiple metallic arches. Several siphons and steam-driven pumps were required to keep Appomattox afloat.[4]

Appomattox operated mainly on the Great Lakes, carrying iron ore on her eastward voyages, and then returning westward with coal. The ship usually towed the steamer barge Santiago, which had a length of 324 feet (98.8 m), to increase the amount of cargo carried each trip. Appomattox alone could carry more than 3,000 tons of bulk cargo, and she and Santiago had a combined capacity approaching 8,000 tons.

Appomattox went aground in smoke and fog on the Wisconsin coast of Lake Michigan, near Milwaukee on November 2, 1905.[5] Crews worked for two weeks in an effort to free the ship, but eventually she broke up and was abandoned.[4] The wreck site is on the National Register of Historic Places, and is a popular site for divers, being close to shore and in shallow water.


  1. ^ National Park Service (2006-03-15). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ Vessel Detail Information for: Appomattox (1896), Wisconsin's Maritime Trails website.
  3. ^ The "Door County Advocate" published an article on August 8, 1896 on page 5 in which it listed the beam as 43 feet, or about 13.1 meters.
  4. ^ a b Wisconsin's Great Lakes Shipwrecks: Appomattox University of Wisconsin–Madison Sea Grant Institute and Wisconsin Historical Society, 2003
  5. ^ "Final Voyage". Wisconsin Shipwrecks. Retrieved 13 December 2009.