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Wisconsin National Register of Historic Places

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Continental Shipwreck (Tamara Thomsen, 2007)

Continental Shipwreck
Lake Michigan, Manitowoc County
Builder: George Presley
Date of construction: 1882

Located 1.5 miles north of Rawley Point Light in Lake Michigan, the remains of the bulk carrier Continental rest broken in 15 feet of water. Built in 1882 by well-known shipwright George Presley in Cleveland, Ohio, the Continental was one of a transitional class of Great Lakes bulk carriers that began to employ innovative hull strengthening technologies to accommodate greater gross tonnage and longer hulls. The Continental was lost in a blinding snow storm in December 1904 while running empty bound for Manitowoc, Wisconsin, for winter service and repairs.

The Continental gives us a rare glimpse back into the developmental years of this unique style of Great Lakes' vessel that continues to play an important role in our economy and culture. Little historical documentation exists on wooden bulk carrier construction and operation. Much of our understanding of this vessel type lies on the lakebed and comes from archaeological data recovered from wreck sites like the Continental. Bulk carriers like the Continental are an important and enduring part of the Great Lakes economy and history, having played a substantial role in the industrialization of America. They are the last remaining commercial vessel type still serving from the formative years of Great Lakes commerce.

State and federal laws protect this shipwreck. Divers may not remove artifacts or structure when visiting this shipwreck site. Removing, defacing, displacing or destroying artifacts or sites is a crime. More information on Wisconsin's historic shipwrecks may be found by visiting Wisconsin's Great Lakes Shipwrecks website.


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