Straits of Mackinac Shipwreck Preserve

Myrtie M. Ross

Depth: 10′
Dimensions: 113′ x 20′ x 7′, 129 gross tons, 99 net tons
Cargo:  none
Cause of Sinking: Abandoned at Whitehall Lumber Co. dock
Built: 1890, South Haven MI, by John B. Martel
Date Lost:  Papers surrendered September 8, 1916
Construction: Wood steamer, 1 deck, 1 mast, plain stem, round stern
Propulsion: Steam, propeller
Skill Level: Novice / snorkel / kayak
Location: N45° 39.949′   W084° 29.361′


The Myrtie Ross was built as a general freight vessel for Volney Ross, and was named for his daughter.  She was built to an 89-ft. length, but was lengthened to 113-ft. one year later.  She carried lumber, stone, produce, and other goods.  She was rebuilt after an 1894 nighttime fire that trapped the Captain and two crewmen.  She was sunk at a Windsor dock in 1900, and after salvage she foundered in a gale on Lake St. Clair.  She was raised and sold in 1901, and resumed service in 1902 for new owners.  In 1912 the vessel was sold to Berst Manufacturing Co. of Saginaw, where she sank at their docks and had to be raised again.  The US Steamboat Inspection Service pulled her license in October 1913 at Cheboygan due to boiler and hull issues.  Her certificate was surrendered in 1916 as “Abandoned – unfit for service” and she was left to decay at the Whitehall Lumber Co. dock.

Present Condition

Today both the dock and the ship have been broken up, leaving nothing above the surface.  The keel structure of the wreck lies aligned with the remains of the dock structure, on a rocky bottom, about 600 ft offshore.  The middle portion of the keel is slotted, and the ribs run through the slot from one side to the other.  Part of the propeller shaft remains, with all other machinery gone.  Part of the stem-post and bow lie in front of the wreckage.

Mooring Buoy Status

The mooring is attached to a cement-filled half-drum near the wreck.  Consult your charts, and watch for pilings as you carefully approach the site.

The Straits of Mackinac Shipwreck Preserve maintains seasonal moorings at this site. Mooring are normally available from mid-June to mid-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.

Photos of the Myrtie Ross

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  • p166-myrtie-ross-under-construction-south-haven-1880