Straits of Mackinac Shipwreck Preserve

Fred McBrier

Depth: 84′ to 100′
Dimensions: 161′ x 31′ x 12′
Cargo: Iron ore
Cause of Sinking: Collision with propeller Progress
Built: 1881, F.W. Wheeler, West Bay City, Michigan
Date Lost: October 3, 1890
Construction: Wooden bulk cargo carrier
Propulsion: Steam propeller
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced
Location: N45° 48.342′  W084° 55.301′


This small steamer was built in West Bay City, MI in 1881, and spent her career towing schooner-barges as a means of increasing her per-trip capacity.  On her final trip she was westbound in the Straits with a load of iron ore, towing the schooner-barges J.B. Lozen and A. Stewart.   In the darkness, there was confusion over passing signals with the oncoming propeller Progress, and  the resulting collision sent the McBrier to the bottom quickly, but without loss of life.

St. Ignace diver Jim Ryerse led the group that located the McBrier in 1967 about 9 miles west of the Mackinac Bridge.

Present Condition

The McBrier sits upright, her stern is intact with engine and boiler in place, but the decks have shifted to port towards the bow.   Mast sections lay alongside, and many small artifacts are scattered about.

Mooring Buoy Status

This buoy was reinstalled  May 11, 2023.  The mooring runs to a helix anchor off the starboard side, straight out from the engine.  A guideline extends from this mooring to the boiler piping in case of poor visibility.

Photos of the Fred McBrier

For an interactive 3D view by Ken Merryman, click HERE

  • McBrier boiler
  • McBrier deck shift
  • McBrier hull gap
  • McBrier engine and stern
  • McBrier deck
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  • mcbrier-unloading-toledo-1888