SS Wisconsin

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For other items of a similar name, see Wisconsin (disambiguation) and USS Wisconsin.
Wisconsin shipwreck
SS Wisconsin is located in Wisconsin
SS Wisconsin
Location Lake Michigan off the coast of Kenosha, Wisconsin
Coordinates 42°31′57.66″N 87°42′31.44″W / 42.5326833°N 87.7087333°W / 42.5326833; -87.7087333Coordinates: 42°31′57.66″N 87°42′31.44″W / 42.5326833°N 87.7087333°W / 42.5326833; -87.7087333
NRHP Reference # 09000820
Added to NRHP October 7, 2009

The Wisconsin was a steamboat that sank in Lake Michigan off the coast Kenosha, Wisconsin, United States. In 2009 the shipwreck site was added to the National Register of Historic Places.[1]


The Wisconsin was built at the Dry Dock Complex in 1881.[2] The steamer was 204 feet (62 m) long with a beam of 35 feet (11 m) and a depth of 12 feet (3.7 m).[3]

In 1885, the Wisconsin caught fire off Grand Haven, Michigan and was nearly destroyed. The Wisconsin was renamed the Naomi in 1899. On May 27, 1907, the ship caught fire again; the steamers Kansas, E. G. Kerr, and Saxona rescued most of the people on board, but four crew members and one passenger perished. By 1910 the ship was known as the E. G. Crosby.[3]

During World War I, the Crosby was commandeered by the United States Navy and served in New York harbor as a convalescent hospital ship named the General Robert M. O'Reilly after Robert Maitland O'Reilly, a former Surgeon General of the United States Army.[4] The General Robert M. O'Reilly was renamed the Pilgrim in 1920 before returning to her original owners and name in 1924.[3]

Sinking and legacy[edit]

On 29 October 1929, the Wisconsin left Chicago bound for Milwaukee, carrying passengers, automobiles, and machine tools. The ship ran into a storm and began taking on water, sinking around 7:10 pm. Rescue craft arrive 20 minutes later.[3] Estimates of the number saved and lost vary widely, from 18 lost out of 26 aboard to 18 lost of 76 aboard.[3] Estimates given around the time of the sinking give numbers of around 63-66 saved, 8-10 dead or missing.[5][6][7]

The wreck site is a popular location for historians, archaeologists and divers. It lies in 90 to 130 feet (27 to 40 m) of water, 6.5 miles (10.5 km) south-southeast of Kenosha.[8]


  1. ^ "Weekly List of Actions Taken On Properties". National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-02-26. 
  2. ^ "Wisconsin Shipwreck". Wisconsin Historical Society. Retrieved 2012-02-26. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Shelak, Benjamin J. Shipwrecks of Lake Michigan. Big Earth Publishing. pp. 71–73. ISBN 9781931599214. Retrieved 3 January 2016. 
  4. ^ Hilton, George Woodman. Lake Michigan Passenger Steamers. Stanford University Press. ISBN 9780804742405. Retrieved 3 January 2016. 
  5. ^ "Three Score Near Death When Saved". The Appleton Post-Crescent. 29 October 1929. p. 1. Retrieved 3 January 2016 – via 
  6. ^ "Lake Michigan Steamer Sinks, 9 dead". Olean Times-Herald. 29 October 1929. p. 1. Retrieved 3 January 2016 – via 
  7. ^ "Seek Causes of Wisconsin loss; 9 dead". News-Palladium. 30 October 1929. p. 6. Retrieved 3 January 2016 – via 
  8. ^ Kohl, Cris (2001). The Great Lakes Diving Guide. West Chicago, Ill.: Seawolf Communications, Inc.