Type: Wooden steam yacht Length: 101.6 x 16.0 x 6.8 ft, 74 gt. Depth: 5 - 15 ft. Location: See inset map
Local Houghton/Hancock lore held that one of the hulls in the Portage Canal was that of a vessel called the Sea Fox. Research into this name unearthed a vessel that sailed Portage Lake in the early 1900s. She was a large luxury steam yacht owned by the first commodore of the Onigaming Yacht Club. A photo of this yacht still exists and is displayed at the Onigaming Yacht Club just outside of Houghton. The Sea Fox was built as the Azalea in 1895 by the Detroit Boat Works of Detroit, Michigan. Her official number was 107168. She was used on the lower lakes for a few years and then brought to the Keweenaw where she was renamed and became a common sight on Portage Lake and the south shore of Lake Superior. She is reported to have been involved in a mishap in the late 1920s which laid her up and caused her eventual abandonment around 1930.
A 1997 investigation of the hulls in the Keweenaw Waterway has positively identified the substantial remains of the Sea Fox. She lies just across the canal from the Michigan Tech power plant and is in remarkable condition. She lies tilted to starboard on the side of a drop off very near shore. Her hull is mostly intact but her decks and superstructure have collapsed in places. Her bow comes within a few feet of the surface and is severly damaged by ice, but her stern and midsection have survived fairly well. Following her back, divers will find her large scotch boiler and triple expansion steam engine. Her three cylinders are visible and were used to positively identify her. A sink and a bathtub can be seen exposed where her hull has receded to reveal one of her heads. Further back, her rudder can be seen still mounted on the stern. Many small artifacts remain on this wreck and are interesting to inspect, but in the early 1970s a group of divers removed the Sea Foxes portholes and brass fittings. Like all Great Lakes wrecks, the Sea Fox is now a protected archival possession of the State and should be treated as such. Please leave artifacts for others to see.
The Sea Fox lies on the north side of the canal, on the east side of a small point. A large red smokestack lies north of her and serves as a landmark. She lies on a muddy bottom that is easily stirred up, and visibility is seldom over 10 ft. Spring and Fall dives yield higher visibility. Because the Sea Fox lies in protected waters she is in better shape than wreck open to Lake Superior. At over 100 ft. long, the Sea Fox is a fascinating dive that is worth expending a full tank of air.
References: US Merchant Vessels, Beeson's Marine Directory, Port of Marquette Vessel Enrollments, NOAA Chart #14972 (Inset), Ralph Hodek, Lundy Castro, Randolph Beebe and Brendon Baillod; photo courtesy of Warren Furbeck, grandson of the Sea Fox's owner