Click on the photos below to see an enlarged version, with detailed description.

John M. Osborne

The Osborne is a 178 foot steam barge built in 1882. Steam barges were built in the late 1800’s before steel construction ushered in the modern lake freighter. They were built with a single steam engine housed in a rear cabin; a small pilothouse mounted forward; and three masts with cut down gaff rigging spread amoung the cargo hatches running between the two cabin areas.

The Osborne went down in 160 feet of water on July 27, 1884 after getting run down in a dense fog by the steamer Alberta. Four lives were lost, including a cook from the Alberta who after saving a number of passengers and crew from the Osborn was lost trying to rescue a badly scalded member of the fire hold crew. The cook, and part of the Osborne’s crew, went down with the ship when the Osborne suddenly plunged to the bottom.

Today the rear section of the ship is badly damaged, the steam engine still on its mounts out in the open, the boiler behind the engine at the broken stern. The cold Lake Superior water has preserved the engine well, with white detailing still visible on a red frame.

Forward the Osborne is intact, twin anchors still mounted with handling equipment at the bow, and a small stove in the crew’s quarters just behind the anchor locker one deck below. Some of the paint can still be found in hold area just below the main deck. A large windlass, used for raising sails, is still on deck next to the remains of the middle mast. Masts and rigging lie about the deck, and over the side.

The wreck is about six miles N.W. of Whitefish point in Lake Superior.

Story and photos ©2005 J.R. Underhill Communications

Home | Shipwreck Maps | Great Lakes Scuba Diving | Searches | MUPC site | Posters & Photos | Contact Us | Links