Type: Wooden Schooner Built: 1857, Vermilion, Ohio by P.M. Bensch Dimensions: 131.55 x 25.7 x 10.1 ft., 247.89 gt. Official #: 12758 Construction: One deck, two masts, square stern, plain stem Depth: 20 - 30 ft. LAT/LON: 47.27'59"/88.09'31" LORAN: 31789.2/46575.5
The schooner John L. Gross was inbound at Eagle Harbor with a cargo of 400 tons of coal for delivery to the Copper Falls Mine when she fetched up on the rocks near the harbor entrance. She was high out of the water and began to pound against the reef. The next week, attempts by the jug J.C. Morse to release her nearly resulted in the loss of the tug. The vessel was subsequently abandoned. She was likely moved off the rocks by ice or by salvors and is probably the hull lying on the West side of Eagle Harbor.
Today, what are thought to be the remains of the vessel can be found just inside the mouth of Eagle Harbor in 20 ft. of water. Her ribs and keel remain and some of her hull is still standing. The wrecksite is liberally strewn with coal, giving a clue to her identity. For many years her remains were misidentified as belonging to the steamer Gazelle which wrecked at Eagle Harbor in 1860. The Gazelle however, wrecked outside the harbor mouth and was removed in 1864. Hull measurements also strongly suggest that this wreckage belongs to the Gross.
Unfortunately, this wreck has experienced a great deal of diver impact. She reportedly still had some decking on her as late as the 1970s, but was substantially damaged by divers removing artifacts and souvenirs. The vessel's capstan was removed in the early 1970s and is now on display at the lighthouse museum in Eagle Harbor.
References: Keweenaw Shipwrecks by Fred Stonehouse, Munising Shipwrecks by Fred Stonehouse, Julius F. Wolff Jr.'s Lake Superior Shipwrecks, Shipwreck! by David Swayze, David Swayze Wrecklist, Divers Guide to Michigan by Steve Harrington, Herman G. Runge Collection - Milwaukee Public Library, Port of Chicago - Vessel Enrollments, Dan Fountain, Randolph Beebe - Keweenaw Underwater Preserve Map