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Event:    While being towed, broke free and struck reef, September 21, 1942

Ship:    254 foot steel barge

Location:   Quarter mile off mouth of Little Grand Marais Harbor

Coordinates:    47 28.15N    88 06.82 W   

Depth:    35 feet

Visible Remains:    Large steel hull sections, flattened by ice, rudder machinery, capstans, bow anchor machinery & chains, cables and miscellaneous machinery

Story:   Built in 1899, The City of St. Joseph served as a Lake Michigan passenger ship under the name City of Chicago.  On September 21, 1942, this ship was being towed along with the barge, The Transport, by the 104 foot tug, The John Roen and was loaded with pulpwood. 

A raging storm caused the rudder chains of The City of St. Joseph to break, and this loss of control caused the tow cables to break, setting both barges adrift.  Distress flares were lighted and spotted by the Coast Guard crews at Eagle Harbor, who saved the crew of The Transport.  However, after a wave stripped off the pilot house, The City of St. Joseph struck the reef and sank.  Five men washed ashore on the pulpwood, but the captain's wife was killed.   The Transport was driven onto the same reef and sank only a few feet away.   The tug John Roen was unable to help and found shelter in Bete Grise.   Most of the wood and machinery were salvaged.

Reprinted with permission from "An Underwater Guide to Lake Superior's Keweenaw Peninsula" by Mark and Kathy Roberts, P.O. Box 332, Houghton, MI  49931

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For more detailed information on The City of St. Joseph, visit the Keweenaw Underwater Preserve

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Last modified: July 25, 1999