Straits of Mackinac Shipwreck Preserve

Eber Ward

Depth: 110′ to 140′
Dimensions: 213′ x 37′ x 12′
Cargo: Corn, 55,000 bushels
Cause of Sinking: Hull damage while transiting an ice field
Built: 1888, F.W. Wheeler & Co., Bay City Michigan
Date Lost: April 20, 1909
Construction: Wooden bulk & package freighter
Propulsion: Steam propeller, fore & aft compound engine
Skill Level: Advanced
Location: N45° 48.746′   W084° 49.133′

History

The Eber Ward was named for the owner’s father, who had once served as keeper of Bois Blanc Island lighthouse, and was built for the Detroit and Lake Superior Line.   This vessel was built with 2 decks, and could handle package or bulk freight.  It was fitted with a powered unloading apparatus for grain cargo, and in later years in even sported electric lighting.

The Eber Ward left her winter quarters in Chicago and picked up a cargo of corn in Milwaukee, bound for Port Huron.  There was still ice in the Straits, and on the bright spring morning of April 20, 1909 the Captain faced a field of slush and windrow ice that appeared to be no obstacle to navigation.  The Ward’s bow was torn open by the ice and she sank within ten minutes, taking one lifeboat and five crewmen to their death.

Present Condition

The wreck sits upright with cabins missing but hull intact, headed due south, about 5 miles West of the Mackinac Bridge in 145′ of water.  Due to the depths, this is an advanced dive and careful dive planning is warranted.  Equipment is distributed around the deck, and several anchors decorate the bow, including a rare mushroom anchor just above the ice damaged timbers.  The engine room and cargo holds are accessible to trained divers. The smoke stack and damaged life boat are off the starboard side.

Mooring Buoy Status

This site is normally marked, from mid-May to late September, with a bow and stern buoy.  The moorings make the wrecks easier to locate, and promote safer diving while protecting shipwrecks from damage from anchors and hooks.

Photos of the Eber Ward

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