Wisconsin Historical Society

National or State Registers Record

7 miles northeast of Sheboygan in Lake Michigan

National or State Register of Historic Places
7 miles northeast of Sheboygan in Lake Michigan | National or State Registers Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
Historic Name:Silver Lake Shipwreck (Scow-schooner)
Reference Number:13000128
Location (Address):7 miles northeast of Sheboygan in Lake Michigan
Silver Lake Shipwreck (Scow-schooner)
Lake Michigan, Town of Mosel, Sheboygan County
Date of construction: 1889
Builder: M. L. Johnson

Located seven miles northeast of Sheboygan in Lake Michigan, the scow schooner Silver Lake lies upright in 200 feet of water with nearly all hull structure and rigging intact. M. L. Johnson constructed the small scow schooner in 1889 at a remote shipyard in Little Point Sable, Michigan. The overall length of the Silver Lake's hull is 98.5 feet with a beam of 20.5 feet; her most unusual feature is that she was constructed with two centerboards. In late May 1900, while en route from Eagle Harbor (Ephraim) to Racine, the Silver Lake encountered a dense fog off Manitowoc and was run down by the car ferry Pere Marquette with the loss of one of her crew.

The Silver Lake operated primarily in the Lake Michigan lumber trade at the height of the lumber boom. Scow schooners were vital to many small communities around Lake Michigan, connecting them with regional markets through the lakeshoring trade. As vessel size grew throughout the nineteenth century, so too did their draft, making stops at small lakeshore communities with shallow harbors difficult or impossible. The flat-bottomed scows, however, were well-suited to shallow harbors. Inexpensive transportation, the scow schooner was the life-blood of many lakeshore communities.

Today, the Silver Lake is the only known example of a double centerboard scow schooner in Wisconsin waters, perhaps the Great Lakes, and provides historians and archaeologists the rare chance to study and document this vessel type. Little historical documentation exists on scow schooner construction and operation. Much of our understanding of this type of vessel lies on the lakebed and comes from archaeological data recovered from wreck sites like the Silver Lake.

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.

Period of Significance:1889-1900
Area of Significance:Archeology/Historic - Non-Aboriginal
Area of Significance:Maritime History
Area of Significance:Commerce
Area of Significance:Engineering
Applicable Criteria:Architecture/Engineering
Applicable Criteria:Information Potential
Historic Use:Transportation: Water-Related
Architectural Style:Other
Resource Type:Site
Architect:Johnson, M.L.
Historic Status:Listed in the National Register
Historic Status:Listed in the State Register
National Register Listing Date:03/27/2013
State Register Listing Date:11/11/2011
Number of Contributing Buildings:0
Number of Contributing Sites:1
Number of Contributing Structures:0
Number of Contributing Objects:0
Number of Non-Contributing Sites:1
Number of Non-Contributing Structures:0
Number of Non-Contributing Objects:0
National Register and State Register of Historic Places, Division of Historic Preservation, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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