Shipwrecks of the Great Lakes

James Pickands

Type:		Wooden Steamer
Size: 		232.6 ft x 40 ft. x 19.2 ft, 1545 gt.
Depth:		10 - 30 ft.
LAT/LON:	47. 25' 71 / 88. 17' 93
LORAN:		31824.6/46553.1
On September 22, 1894, the wooden steamer James Pickands was downbound from Duluth to South Chicago with a load of iron ore when she was lost on Sawtooth Reef. The Pickands veered off course due to thick smoke from an inland forest fire and came to a grinding halt on the reef just East of Eagle River, Michigan. The captain and 15 crew members went ashore to await the salvage tugs, but a gale arose on the 25th and broke the ship in two.

Limited salvage was conducted on the Pickands, and she was eventually abandoned as a total loss. The Pickands had an infamous career in that she had rammed the Smith Moore off Munising in 1889, dealing her a fatal blow. The Pickands' captain continued on and left the Smith Moore and her crew to their fate. Luckily, they were taken off by another passing vessel. The Pickands herself was still a fairly new boat when lost, having been built in Cleveland in 1885.

Today, the remains of the James Pickands are fairly broken up, but her boilers, rudder and part of her hull remain for divers to inspect. The Pickands lies in the center of Sawtooth Reef, about 1 mile East of the William C. Moreland, and about a mile West of the Tioga. Within 100 yards of the Pickands lie the remains of two other shipwrecks, the Colorado and the Fern. The Pickands/Colorado site is usually bouyed in the Summer months. The site can be reached by putting in at Eagle Harbor and taking a one hour boat ride. As with all the Sawtooth wrecks, the water is icy cold and the Lake, very tempermental. Be on the lookout for wind and waves to pick up quickly and expect water temperatures in the high 30s to low 40s. Visibility is about 40 ft., but it can be decreased if the Eagle River is running heavy.

References: Keweenaw Shipwrecks by Fred Stonehouse, Munising Shipwrecks by Fred Stonehouse, Julius F. Wolff Jr.'s Lake Superior Shipwrecks, Shipwreck! by David Swayze, Divers Guide to Michigan by Steve Harrington

Visit another excellent page on the Sawtooth Reef wrecks

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