Date of Loss: October 18, 1910 Vessel Type: Steel Steamer Size: 580 ft x 58 ft. x 32 ft., 7514 gt Location: On Eagle River Shoals off Eagle River, Michigan LORAN: 31832.9 / 46551.1 LAT/LON: 47.25.07'/88.19.60'
On October 18, 1910, the steamer William C. Moreland struck the Keweenaw Peninsula's "Sawtooth Reef" while downbound from Superior, Wisconsin with a load of iron ore. By all accounts, the weather was calm, but smoke from an inland forest fire impaired the crew's ability to judge the distance from shore. Initially thought to be easily salvageable, the Moreland remained intact until she began to break up during a gale on October 20th.
Before winter, an extensive salvage and lightering attempt was made with little success. By the next summer the boat had broken into three sections and had partially fallen off of it's perch on the reef. Because the Moreland was a brand new vessel, only two months old when lost, and because she was one of the largest vessels on the lakes, considerable salvage efforts continued. All the next Summer, the Reid Wrecking Company labored only to retrieve 278 feet of the vessel's stern. 302 ft of the William C. Moreland was left on the reef. The salvaged portion of the ship was eventually used to construct the 580 ft. vessel Sir Trevor Dawson which remained in service until 1970 when she was scrapped in Spain as the Canadian steamer Parkdale. She also carried the names Charles L. Hutchinson and Gene C. Hutchinson during her career.
Today, the remains of the William C. Moreland rest in 25 to 40 ft. of water about 1/4 mile off the town of Eagle River, Michigan. She has been largely flattened by years of wave and ice action, but her considerable remains are very interesting to explore. Divers will find the Moreland's forward hull and much machinery left at the wreck site. As with many of the Keewenaw's wrecks, there are usually Lake Trout and Herring prowling the wreck. Bottom temperatures on the Sawtooth wrecks are always colder than expected because the current comes up from a depth of over 500 ft. Expect temperatures in the upper 30s.
As the Moreland is part of the Keewenaw Underwater Preserve, she is bouyed in the Summer months. The Moreland can be reached by launching out of Eagle Harbor and making the five mile journey to Sawtooth Reef. A seaworthy boat is necessary because Lake Superior is often rough and can kick up with little warning. Divers can explore other nearby wrecks which are also bouyed. Nearby are the James Pickands, Tioga, Colorado, Chippewa and Fern.
References: Julius F. Wolff Jr.'s Lake Superior Shipwrecks, Keewenaw Shipwrecks by Fred Stonehouse, Divers Guide to Michigan by Steve Harrington, Dive of site by author.