Straits of Mackinac Shipwreck Preserve


Depth: 67′ to 102′
Dimensions: 290′ x 41′ x 13.5′
Cargo: Flour and grain
Cause of Sinking: Collision with lumber hooker Joseph L. Hurd
Built: 1889,  Globe Iron Works,  Cleveland, Ohio
Date Lost: May 10, 1895
Construction: Steel bulk freighter
Propulsion: Steam
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced
Location: N45° 43.239′  W085° 11.401′


The Cayuga was one of five early steel sister ships. She was carrying grain and general merchandise when she encountered dense fog. The small wooden-hulled Joseph L. Hurd struck her on her starboard side and she sank in 25 minutes.

Because she was built of steel and was relatively new, extensive efforts were made to raise her from 1895-1900. These failed attempts left several large pontoons and other salvage equipment at the wreck site. A flat barge, lost in the salvage effort, sits off her port side amidships.

Present Condition

The wreck is listing slightly to port and is gradually collapsing forward of the engine room.  The bow is broken off and rotated to the side.  The stern is relatively intact and allows some penetration.  Large logs, used to distribute the strain from the lifting chains, are visible inside the stern area.  The sunken pontoons line the sides of the hull.  The propeller and rudder are in place, and a spare propeller blade can be found inside the hull.  Many artifacts can be viewed on and near the wreck.  The sunken salvage barge is intact, one corner nearly abuts the hull.   The visibility is quite limited in late summer as the water warms up, so be sure you know the layout of the wreck and can find your way back to the mooring line.

Mooring Buoy Status

This site lies outside the Preserve boundaries and directly on the shipping lane, so we are unable to attach a mooring buoy.  There is a mooring line attached to the port rail,  aft of the engine, but it usually has only a small jug to help it stay near the surface.  Visiting divers may need to locate the site via GPS and depth sounder, and send a diver down to recover the mooring line.  Be sure to put up a dive flag, and broadcast a Security call on VHF Channel 16, especially in times of haze or reduced visibility.

Photos of the Cayuga

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