|Click on the photos below to see an enlarged version, with detailed description.|
Barnum foundered about five miles east of Mackinac Point on April 3, 1894.
The ship was one of a large fleet of boats to leave Chicago on the first
trip of the 1894 shipping season. James M. Jones of Detroit built the
218-foot bulk carrier in 1873. By the spring of 1894 the ship's condition
was poor enough to have the underwriters insure it for one run around
the lake where it was to be refitted in Port Huron. The old hull opened
a seam while running through heavy weather in the Straits. Sounding a
distress call on the steam whistle brought aid from the tug Crusader.
All members of the crew were removed before the ship sank in 70 feet of
early salvage diver, Fred Ryerse, first visited the Barnum one day
it sank. It was never salvaged. Norm McCready rediscovered the wreck in
1963. Many great artifacts were removed during the freewheeling collecting
of the 60s and 70s.
The stern section of the wreck was destroyed in the 60s when divers
used explosives to remove the rudder, which was placed on display in
St.Ignace waterfront park. Today the main hull is intact forward of the
stern, but the weight of zebra mussels forming all over the hull may
the wreck further apart. The decks have collapsed into the hull leaving
the boilers and single cylinder steam engine open to explore. Forward
the windlass can still be found on the upper deck. One can swim into
the forward section below this deck to an empty anchor locker.
These photos of the Barnum were taken on August 10, 2002 while using old diving equipment collected from the 50s and 60s.
Story and photos ©2005 J.R. Underhill Communications