Straits of Mackinac Shipwreck Preserve

Genesee Chief

Depth: 10′
Dimensions: 142′ x 25′ x 10′, 275 gross tons, 261 net tons
Cargo: None
Cause of Sinking: Abandoned
Built: 1846, Carthage NY, by George Steers
Date Lost:  August 24, 1891
Construction: Wood, 2-mast schooner, plain stem, square stern
Propulsion: Wind
Skill Level: Novice / snorkel / kayak
Location: N45° 39.754′   W084° 26.170′


The Genesee Chief was built as a twin-screw propeller for Union Steamboat Company.  She was rebuilt Cleveland as a single-screw propeller in 1863, but in 1868 she burned to the waterline in Detroit at Clark’s Dry Dock, and was rebuilt as an unrigged barge.  In 1885 she was modified into a two-masted schooner.  She became severely waterlogged and was abandoned at the Millard D. Olds lumber docks in Cheboygan MI in August 1891.  Documentation was surrendered in 1897, and she was towed to Duncan Bay, along with the propeller Leviathan, to decay in the shallows inside Cheboygan Point.

Present Condition

The wreck sits upright, but it is largely broken up.  Her mast steps are visible, but there is no evidence of a centerboard.   Large timbers and spikes are present, and some smaller pieces are scattered about on the bottom, but few recognizable parts remain.   Fish, including bass and walleyes, frequent the site.

Mooring Buoy Status

This is a good snorkel and kayak site, as well as a fun shallow dive.  Shore divers can approach from Cheboygan State Park; walk north towards the point, then wade in (across 6” rocks) until you reach the drop-off.

The Straits of Mackinac Shipwreck Preserve maintains seasonal moorings at this site. Mooring are normally available from late May to early 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.