Lake Erie is known for being the shallowest and the smallest among the 5 major lakes that comprise the body of freshwater lakes known as the Great Lakes. The average depth in this part of the Great Lakes is about 62 feet and the maximum water depth is 210 feet, which is along the eastern region of Lake Erie. There are an estimated 2,000 shipwrecks in Lake Erie and it offers diverse diving activities for beginners and expert seasoned shipwreck divers.
There are still a significant number of shipwrecks in Lake Erie waiting to be discovered, and for the adventurous souls, this is one of the most popular diving destination within the Great Lakes. When doing your research on shipwrecks, it is sometimes difficult to access complete and accurate documents and historical accounts to pinpoint the exact locations of these shipwrecks and determine whether these have already been salvaged or not.
A significant number of shipwrecks within the waters along the east coast have eroded from several years of exposure to saltwater. However, the fresh and cold waters of Lake Erie and the rest of the Great Lakes have perfectly preserved these important historical pieces. The shipwreck diving sites in Lake Erie are considered within the diving community as world class diving sites. Lake Erie offers a veritable museum of important maritime artifacts that most of us will never see in other diving destinations.
Lake Erie Shipwreck Diving Adventure
Lake Erie is a popular destination of snorkelers and divers mainly because of her clear waters and shallow depth. Historical records have shown that Lake Erie has been an important route of the maritime trade within the Great Lakes during the 18th century. This explains why the shipwrecks in this part of the Great Lakes cover a cross-section of several types of ocean vessels consisting of side wheel steamers, tugs, schooner barges, schooners, etc. Most of the sinking incidents in Lake Erie are attributed to poor navigation, fires, grounding and storm damage. This means that most of the shipwrecks in Lake Erie bear the significant damage that led to their sinking.
Depending on the prevailing water level, most of the shipwrecks are at about 5 to 7 feet depths of the waters of Lake Erie. Strong waves and ice formations during the winter months have pushed and scattered most of these shipwrecks. The majority of the remains of these vessels include pipes, crankshafts, flywheels, propeller, amidships winches, centerboard trunks, frame, wooden planks and burned timber.
The shipwreck sites are an ideal sanctuary and teeming habitat of several fish species, and these include sunfish, rock bass, smallmouth bass, yellow perch, white sucker, common carp and round goby. During the summer months, several species of aquatic plants thrive within and around the shipwrecks and you will occasionally see water snakes foraging the wreck site for round gobies.
Featured Shipwrecks in Lake Erie
This wreck lies at around 16 to 18 feet on the eastern side of Kelleys Island and at about half a mile offshore. Strong currents and ice formations have scattered the remnants of F.H. Prince over a wider area. The main section of the wreck is approximately 73 meters in length and consists of the engine works, planking, ribs keelsons and the keel. Depending on the water level, the boiler is about 4 feet from the surface and is oftentimes a major hazard to boaters who are not familiar with the navigational routes in this part of Lake Erie.
F.H. Prince is a popular wreck among snorkelers and scuba divers. It is also a popular choice of seasoned anglers as the diving site attracts a large number of rock bass, smallmouth bass and other important sport fishing species.
Isabella J. Boyce
This Lake Erie wreck lies some 10 feet below the surface and is located in the region near the Middle Bass Island. Isabella J. Boyce, a sandsucker, was grounded on East Point Reef on June 6, 1917 and sunk after a major conflagration that occurred following the accident. Sandsuckers are common during the early part of the 20th century and were used to pick up loads of water and sand using a suction pipe. The sand is filtered out and delivered to iron-casting plants and construction companies. Sandsuckers are vessels converted from another type of vessel and this was the main reason why most were prone to accidents.
Success is a museum ship which sunk off Port Clinton on July 4, 1946 after it caught fire. Success was originally built for emigrants and the silk trade and was later converted into a prison ship in 1857, while stationed at Sydney Australia. She remained in Australia, scuttled and abandoned, until she was resurrected and sailed for various ports as a convict ship museum. Success finally retired at Port Clinton in 1939 where she met her end at the hands of vandals in 1946. No lives were reported lost when the incident happened.