Straits of Mackinac Shipwreck Preserve


Depth: 120′
Dimensions: 95.5′ x  18.5′ x  8.2′
Cargo: None
Cause of Sinking: Burned as a spectacle, then rammed until it went under
Built: 1889,  Thomas Miller, Chicago IL
Date Lost: May 16, 1954
Construction: Wooden passenger/freight vessel, cut down to a barge
Propulsion: Built as a steamship, engine removed
Skill Level: Advanced
Location: N45° 52.473 W84° 35.655


The Elva was originally built as the Glad Tidings (4) for Captain Henry Bundy.  Capt. Bundy had sailed 3 different schooners, all named “Glad Tidings”, to spread the word of the Gospel.  He moved from port to port, preaching and collecting donations to fund his operations. Built in 1889 as his first steam-powered vessel, he continued his ministry for several years, selling it in 1896 to James Keightly, who renamed the ship “Elva” in honor of his wife. Transferred to Arnold Lines in 1898, she was lengthened a few years later, and sailed various routes between various ports and islands in the Straits of Mackinac.

As the Arnold fleet grew and this vessel aged, she was eventually reduced to freight-only service, being cut down to a deck barge in 1944.  She ended service in 1952 and sat idle until she was set afire off Arch Rock, east of the islands, as a spectacle to celebrate the beginning of construction of the Mackinac Bridge. Even after burning to the waterline, she had to be rammed a few times by another vessel before she went under, drifting somewhat to the north of her original position.  Her general location was known, but few people tried to find her exact location.  Her position was recently confirmed by several sources, including the recent NOAA Hi-resolution scanning project, and separately by Thom Hadfield, using information provided by Tom Pfeiffelman of Mackinac Island.

Present Condition

The remains of this vessel sit upright on the bottom, and consist of the lower hull only  Some portions are beginning to fall over but it is largely in one piece.

Mooring Buoy Status

There are no current plans to install a mooring at this site but we will consider it for future action.

Photos of the Elva

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