Wrecks in Jefferson County

By: Dennis McCarthy

Volume 15, Issue 5, May 2020

The waters of Jefferson County have one of the largest collections of freshwater shipwrecks anywhere in the Great Lakes system.  They are only rivaled by the shipwrecks in adjacent Canadian waters.

Shipwrecks, discovered from history books or stories handed down from generation to generation, are starting to be explored. These explorers, a new generation of scuba divers and shipwreck hunters, are using new technology. In recent years, low-cost hi-performance side-scan units, that use sound to photograph and map the bottom of the River and lake, have been combined with high accuracy GPS satellite receivers.   These systems can be used to provide pictures of objects hundreds of feet deep and record their exact locations.  Advanced diving equipment using mixed gas systems or re-breathers are allowing scuba divers to dive deeper wrecks and stay under longer.

The waters off Jefferson County, from the Thousand Islands to Lake Ontario, with its islands and bays, have been a witness to shipping and marine commerce since the first European explorers arrived. Some of the ships that have entered them have never left. In the waters off Jefferson County is a “Fleet of Lost Ships,” casualties of war, conflict, natural disasters, and human error.

The following list describes some of the shipwrecks in New York State waters off Jefferson County.  And now this new generation of divers, on their own time and at their own expense, are documenting the past.


[Note: Everyone of these wrecks is a known wreck, but the identification is ongoing. Some historians identify ships with a name through stories while divers have the wreck but then try to find a name.

Many links are from the Alpena County George N. Fletcher Public Library, Great Lakes Maritime Collection (http://greatlakeships.org/). Additional underwater photographs from Dan Scoville’s web site https://www.shipwreckstories.com/ and Tim Caza and Dennis Gerber’s website https://sonarguy.com/. They have made over 100 discoveries in the past six years.

Shipwrecks of the Thousand Islands, second edition, is available to purchase online at https://www.lulu.com/en/us/shop/dennis-mccarthy/shipwrecks-of-the-thousand-islands-2016-edition/paperback/product-1yjrwg95.html and the photographer Vlada Dekina has dive photographs containing valuable research material at https://www.wrecksandreefs.com/

Photograph of the list of wrecks in Jefferson County, These links are not live, and difficult to read, therefor the material is provided above.

Tibbetts Point - Cape Vincent - Lyme - Brownville

Yacht Gitana: built 1889, lost 1895; lost near Tibbetts Point; possibly wreck identified as Rum-Runner.   https://sonarguy.com/rum-runner/

Schooner Minerva Cook: built 1840; Lost 1886; lost Isthmus off Point Peninsula;  (Comment: Also known as the Point Peninsula Wreck). http://greatlakeships.org/2904697/data?n=3

Wisconsin: built 1852; lost 1867; off Grenadier Island; raised. http://greatlakeships.org/2896626/data?n=5 https://sonarguy.com/wisconsin-steamer/

Propeller ship City of New York: built 1863; lost 1921; lost Main Duck Island, (cargo of coal). http://greatlakeships.org/2903113/data?n=4 https://sonarguy.com/city-of-new-york/

Schooner barge Hiawatha: built 1890; lost 1917; lost 8 miles off Duck Islands.  http://greatlakeships.org/2904815/data?n=6 More information at:   https://sonarguy.com/schooner-barge-2/

Schooner barge H.B.: built 1890; lost 1912; lost  NE off Galloo Island Light. (Comment: cargo of coal) http://greatlakeships.org/2904805/data?n=18 https://sonarguy.com/h-b/

Schooner barge Buckley: built 1884, lost 1912; lost NE off Galloo Island Light. (confused Schooner barge Menominee). http://greatlakeships.org/2903242/data?n=3 https://sonarguy.com/menominee/

An Old Steamer: built unknown; lost unknown; https://sonarguy.com/old-steamer/

Fox Island Wreck : built unknown, lost unknown, lost head of Fox Island (Comment, Eagle?). http://greatlakeships.org/2894839/data?n=14

House Boat: lost in the 1960s, lost Chaumont Bay. https://sonarguy.com/house-boat/

Photograph of the list of wrecks in Jefferson County, These links are not live and difficult to read, therefore the material is provided above.

Houndsfield - Henderson - Ellisburg

Scow Sloop Black Duck: built 1859, lost 1872, lost Mexico Bay. http://greatlakeships.org/2894456/data?n=1    https://www.shipwreckstories.com/black-duck

Scow Schooner Shannon: built 1867; lost 1874; lost north of Oswego. (Comment: cargo of coal) http://greatlakeships.org/2894851/data?n=4   https://www.shipwreckstories.com/shannon

Schooner North Star: built 1854; lost 1886; lost near Stony Island. http://greatlakeships.org/2907658/data?n=4    https://sonarguy.com/north-star-2/

Schooner American: built 1870; lost 1894; lost Mexico Bay, (Comment: cargo of coal). http://greatlakeships.org/2907438/data?n=2   https://sonarguy.com/american/

Schooner, J.W. Langmuir: built 1865; lost 1874, lost Galloo Island, (Comment: cargo of lumber). http://greatlakeships.org/2900557/data?n=1 https://sonarguy.com/j-w-langmuir/

Barge Onondaga: built 1870; lost 1907; lost Stony Point http://greatlakeships.org/2898877/data?n=5

Motor boat Sea Ray Sedan: built unknown; lost; unknown; lost Stony Island,  https://sonarguy.com/52-foot-sea-ray/

Schooner, S.S. Ellsworth: built 1869; lost 1877; lost near Stony Island also listed as lost Lake Erie http://greatlakeships.org/2900217/data?n=3 https://sonarguy.com/lake-ontario/#27

Schooner Old Schooner: built unknown; lost unknown,  lost 115 feet deep on Lake Ontario. https://sonarguy.com/115-2/

Photograph of the list of wrecks in Jefferson County, These links are not live and difficult to read, therefore the material is provided above.

Tibbetts Point - Cape Vincent - Clayton - Orleans - Alexandria

Propeller St. Louis: built 1864; lost 1914; lost off Village of Cape Vincent. http://greatlakeships.org/2900440/data?n=7     http://tilife.org/BackIssues/Archive/tabid/393/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/2253/categoryId/9/History-Under-Cape-Vincent-Waters.aspx  Shipwrecks of the Thousand Islands, 2016 edition, Page 29-30.

Snow Haldimand: built 1771; lost 1783; abandoned at Carleton Island. (Comment: North Bay Wreck). http://greatlakeships.org/2903424/data?n=1 http://www.forthaldimand.com/p/blog-page.html

French Creek House Boat: built unknown; lost unknown; French Creek, Clayton, NY. Shipwrecks of the Thousand Islands, 2016 edition, Page 45.

Sloop Benicia Boy: built 1872; lost 1883; lost Cape Vincent (Comment: Box Stove Wreck). http://greatlakeships.org/2897883/data?n=1 https://www.srhf.info/p/box-stove-wreck.html

Schooner Gipsy: built 1849; lost 1901; lost near Board Island (Comment: aka Isaac Walton). http://greatlakeships.org/2906718/data?n=21 Shipwrecks of the Thousand Islands, 2016 edition, Page 56.

Schooner Maggie L: built 1889; lost 1929;  lost off Village of Clayton. http://greatlakeships.org/2901716/data?n=1 https://www.diveclayton.com/p/maggie-l-dive-site.html

Steam yacht Grand View: built unknown; lost 1901; lost off Eagle Wing Shoals. Shipwrecks of the Thousand Islands, 2016 edition, Page 29-30.

Work boat False Squaw: built early 20th Century: lost before 1970; lost French Creek, Clayton, (Comment: Squaw). Shipwrecks of the Thousand Islands, 2016 edition, Page 29-30.

Thousand Islands Bridge Barge: built unknown; lost abandoned after 1938; lost North Colborne Island. Shipwrecks of the Thousand Islands, 2016 edition, Page 57. Used in construction of the Thousand Islands Bridge.

Schooner Elk: built unknown; lost unknown; lost Lower harbor, Clayton. (Comment: pre-1874). "Washington Island's Wreck" TI Life article by Dennis McCarthy February 13, 2012.    Shipwrecks of the Thousand Islands, 2016 edition, Page 54-55.

Steam Yacht Dauntless: built unknown; abandoned pre-1940; lost above Round Island. (Comment: Tour Boat) Shipwrecks of the Thousand Islands, 2016 edition, Page 58-59.

Life Boat Calumet Island Wreck: built unknown; lost unknown;  lost off Calumet Island. Shipwrecks of the Thousand Islands, 2016 edition, Page 60.

Sailing Yacht Raymond: built unknown, lost 1925, lost foot of Round Island. Shipwrecks of the Thousand Islands, 2016 edition, Page 61.

Propeller Oconto: built 1872; lost 1886; lost Granite State Shoal. http://greatlakeships.org/2897301/data?n=3   https://www.wrecksandreefs.com/oconto.htm   and  Shipwrecks of the Thousand Islands, 2016 edition, Page 64 - 69.

Metallic Life Boat: built 1872; lost 1886; lost Granite State Shoal.     https://www.wrecksandreefs.com/oconto.htm Shipwrecks of the Thousand Islands, 2016 edition, Page 66.

Schooner A.E. Vickery: built 1861; lost 1889;  lost Rock Island (Comment: J.B. Penfeild) http://greatlakeships.org/2899671/data?n=1      https://www.wrecksandreefs.com/vickery.htm        Shipwrecks of the Thousand Islands, 2016 edition, Page 70-74.

Schooner Iroquoise: built 1759; lost 1761; lost Niagara Shoal (Comment: Anson (1760-1761)). http://greatlakeships.org/2901291/data?n=2 Shipwrecks of the Thousand Islands, 2016 edition, Page 78-79.

Steam Launch: built unknown; lost unknown; lost Niagara Shoal Shipwrecks of the Thousand Islands, 2016 edition, Page 77.

Side wheeler Sir Robert Peel: built 1837; lost 1838; lost near TI Bridge http://greatlakeships.org/2906774/data?n=1 Shipwrecks of the Thousand Islands, 2016 edition, Page 80-81.

General Hancock: built 1896; lost 1941; lost  Mandolin Island. http://greatlakeships.org/2896192/data?n=1 Shipwrecks of the Thousand Islands, 2016 edition, Page 75-76.

Side wheeler Islander: built 1871; lost 1909; Village of Alexandria Bay. Shipwrecks of the Thousand Islands, 2016 edition, Page 88-89.

Freighter Roy A. Jodrey: built 1965; lost 1974; lost Wellesley Island. http://greatlakeships.org/2893449/data?n=1  https://www.wrecksandreefs.com/jodrey.htm and Shipwrecks of the Thousand Islands, 2016 edition, Page 90-92.

Steam Launch Catherine: built unknown; lost 1890; lost off Cornwall Store. Shipwrecks of the Thousand Islands, 2016 edition, Page 93-95.

Freighter Keystorm: built 1908; lost 1912; Freighter Scow Island Shoal. http://greatlakeships.org/2893487/data?n=1   https://www.wrecksandreefs.com/keystorm.htm and Shipwrecks of the Thousand Islands, 2016 edition, Page 100-103.

Drill Barge America: built unknown; lost 1932; lost Dark Island. https://www.wrecksandreefs.com/america.htm      Shipwrecks of the Thousand Islands, 2016 edition, Page 1104-106.

Speed Boat Giggle: built unknown; lost 1929; lost near Alexandria Bay; (Comment: found in 2019 by Bob Sherwood.) https://allaboutscuba.com/   https://www.srhf.info/p/giggles.html

Photograph of the list of wrecks in Jefferson County, These links are not live and difficult to read, therefore the material is provided above.

By Dennis McCarthy

Dennis R. McCarthy lives in Cape Vincent, NY, along with his wife Kathi. He is a graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology, with a degree in Electrical Engineering.  A certified scuba diver for over 48 years, he made his first dives in 1971. He is a co-founder (1993) and current director of the St Lawrence Historical Foundation Inc., and  a past president of the Clayton Diving Club.  Dennis and Kathi are currently on the Advisory Council for the Proposed NOAA Lake Ontario Sanctuary.

Computer monitor display of a recorded side-scan data showing the image of a shipwreck. [Photo courtesy Dennis McCarthy]

See Dennis McCarthy's article with information for scuba diving in the Thousand Islands.  "Proposed Lake Ontario National Marine Sanctuary".  July 2019.  In addition, Dennis is available to answer questions regarding the material provided above.

Posted in: Volume 15, Issue 5, May 2020, People, Places, Sports, Current



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