Straits of Mackinac Shipwreck Preserve


Depth: 110′
Dimensions: 119.7′ x 26.6′ x 11.1′
Cargo: Coal
Cause of Sinking: Collision with bark Badger State
Built: 1862,  Allen, McLelland & Co.,  Milwaukee WI
Date Lost: July 6, 1869
Construction: Wooden schooner: 1 deck, 2 masts, square stern, scorpion head
Propulsion: Sail
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced
Location: will be posted when a mooring is established


The Dolphin was one of a number of vessels with that name sailing during this era, leading to great confusion over which vessel was being referenced.  Newspapers began referring to them as “Dolphin #1” and “Dolphin #2”, for example.  This vessel was registered with the Official Number 6205, and was otherwise known as the “Dolphin of Racine” for her home port of Racine Wisconsin.  The Dolphin was lost in a collision with the bark Badger State northeast of Waugoshance Light, and went down in about 20 minutes. The crew was rescued and dropped off at Mackinaw, where they later caught a ride back to Milwaukee. The collision was reported to be “just forward of the cat-head”, which matches the apparent damage on this newly discovered wreck when she was explored and photographed by Ken Merryman in 2021.  We thank Ken for providing the location for this new site, and for the 3D models of this and other area shipwrecks.

Present Condition

The wreck is sitting upright on the bottom, with the cabin and wheel intact, and masts laying across the decks and over the sides.  The starboard anchor is still in place, the jib-boom is broken off, likely in the collision or when she struck bottom.  Some hatch covers appear to be in place, and the yawl-boat is on the bottom off the stern.

This is a new site, although it appears that it may have been visited by other divers in years past.  PLEASE do not damage the wreck – don’t try to force entry into tight openings, or move artifacts around. Just look and take photos, nothing more.

Mooring Buoy Status

We hope to install a helix anchor and full mooring on this site early in the 2022 dive season. We may have to use a temporary mooring to the wreck at first, but we will endeavor to get this properly moored ASAP. This site is closer to the main shipping lanes and boaters should use caution in reduced visibility, including making radio calls to alert nearby traffic.

Photos of the Dolphin

  • dolphin-6205-at-dock
  • dolphin-by-ken-merryman
  • 2021-0930-dolphin-e-closeup