Straits of Mackinac Shipwreck Preserve


Depth: 90′ to 124′
Dimensions: 226′ x 34′ x 11′
Cargo: 48,577 bushels wheat, loaded at Chicago
Cause of Sinking: Cut by ice
Built: 1873, Morley & Hill, Marine City, Michigan
Date Lost: April 4th, 1894
Construction: Wooden bulk freighter
Propulsion: Steam propeller
Skill Level: Advanced
Location: N45° 48.511′  W084° 43.904′


The Minneapolis was a wood steamer built in Marine City MI in 1873, originally as a passenger ship but later converted to carry bulk cargo.  She was to become another victim of early April ice.  She, along with 19 other boats, made out of Chicago harbor on April fools day 1894. The William Barnum was among those 19 other boats and would sink the day before the Minneapolis would go down.

Loaded with wheat and towing two schooner-barges, the Minneapolis was headed to Buffalo.  On early morning April 4th, a strong gale was blowing ice flows through the Straits.  The mate on duty noticed the Minneapolis’ steering was slow to respond and investigated. He then notice the she was rapidly taking on water, which eventually put her boilers out, crippling the bilge pumps and the Minneapolis. The crew were able to board one of the schooner-barges that she was towing, before she slipped beneath the waves. No lives were lost.

Present Condition

The Minneapolis is located just 500 feet southwest of the main south tower of the bridge. She sits upright facing southwest and mostly intact in 125′.  The engine and boilers are in place, the forward decks are in place but slipping downward.  The bow is open and the stern rail is intact but the lower stern is open, exposing the propeller.  The rudder lies on the bottom alongside the prop.  Fishing net floats decorate the starboard side, and the forward end sits on a mast heel, with the remainder of the mast extending out to starboard through a sand dune.  Schools of fish frequent this wreck.

Being at narrowest part of the Straits, there if frequently a strong, and sometimes confusing current.  This site is for advanced divers.

Mooring Buoy Status

Buoy reinstalled 5/18/24, using a large, older buoy obtained through a NOAA donation to Michigan Underwater Preserve Council.  We’re testing this style of buoy for use in the Straits.

The Straits of Mackinac Shipwreck Preserve maintains a mooring at this site from late-May to mid-September, the moorings make for easier location, safer diving and protect shipwrecks from damage from anchors and hooks.

Photos of the Minneapolis

  • minneapolis-1
  • minneapolis-10
  • minneapolis-12
  • minneapolis-13
  • minneapolis-14
  • minneapolis-15
  • minneapolis-16
  • minneapolis-17
  • minneapolis-2
  • minneapolis-3
  • minneapolis-4
  • minneapolis-5
  • minneapolis-6
  • minneapolis-7
  • minneapolis-dsc_0023
  • minneapolis-dsc_0033
  • minneapolis-p161-a
  • minneapolis-passenger-at-grand-haven-1874-p160
  • minneapolis-wreck-drawing-campbell-leete
  • minnie-maybe-ashore-grand-haven
  • pict0168