|Dimensions:||137′ x 26′ x 12′, 332 gross tons, 316 net tons|
|Cargo:||Sandstone blocks, from Jacobsville, MI to Chicago|
|Cause of Sinking:||Stranded, anchors failed while sheltering from storm.|
|Built:||1870, Marine City MI, by William Morley|
|Date Lost:||September 23, 1895|
|Construction:||Wood, 3-mast schooner, plain stem, square stern|
|Skill Level:||Novice / snorkel / kayak|
|Location:||N45° 52.526′ W084° 50.144′|
The C.H. Johnson was carrying a load of large sandstone blocks from Jacobsville, MI, near Portage Entry on the Keweenaw Peninsula, for a bank building in Chicago. A strong gale arose, and Captain Hiram Henderson decided to take shelter behind St. Helena Island. At 2 A.M. the anchor chains failed and the vessel was swept ashore at Gros Cap. As their yawl boat was quickly swamped and sunk, the crew fired a signal gun and were rescued by a local fisherman, Andrew Corp, and his two sons in their fishing boat. The crew lost all their personal belongings.
The windlass was salvaged at some point for display in St. Ignace, but it’s current location is not known. Much of the wreck has been ground away by winter ice, but the sandstone blocks protected sections of the hull and frames below the cargo area. Several large portions of decking lie near the wreck, one atop the other, in slightly deeper water. These sections seem to move about from year to year, but recently were located very close to the blocks. There are about 67 of the large blocks, mostly rectangular, but one is a large cube, somewhat like a bank vault. At lower lake levels, a swimmer can stand on this block with head and shoulders out of the water.
Mooring Buoy Status
This site has a mooring south of the wreck, in slightly deeper water but within viewing distance of the shipwreck. A small line connects the mooring line with the wreck, to guide you to the blocks if visibility is poor. The blocks can easily be seen from the surface, making this a good snorkel and kayak site, as well as a fun dive. Unfortunately there is no nearby public access for diver entry.
The Straits of Mackinac Shipwreck Preserve maintains seasonal moorings at this site. Mooring are normally available from late May to September, the moorings make for easier location, safer diving and protect shipwrecks from damage from anchors and hooks. Vessels are required to use these moorings when they’re present.