Type: Steel barge, Iron barge Size: 254 ft. x 34 ft x 16.6 ft, 1439 gt. 254.1 ft x 45.9 ft. x 14 ft., 1594 gt. Depth: 25 - 35 ft. LORAN: 31777.6 / 46581.4, 31777.5 / 46582.2 LAT/LON: 47.28.20/88.06.75', 47.28.10/88.06.58'
The barges City of St. Joseph and Transport were under tow of the tug John Roen on the evening of September 21, 1942 off of the Keweenaw Peninsula when they were lost. They were carrying full deck loads of pulpwood from Grand Marais, Minnesota to Port Huron, Michigan. A Northwest gale was blowing when the St. Joe's rudder chains broke making her unmanageable. Parting her towline, she was at the mercy of the gale. The tug John Roen sent out a distress signal and the Eagle Harbor Lifesaving Station responded, taking the men off of the Transport which was still under tow, but taking a terrible beating. The Transport too, soon parted her tow line and was also at the gale's mercy.
Daybreak revealed that both vessels had run aground on a small reef outside Little Grand Marais Harbor, just East of Eagle Harbor. The pounding surf had quickly breached the barges' hulls and scuttled both vessels. As the barges were hauling logs, the crew attempted to grab onto the floating debris and ride it to shore. Unfortunately, Katherine McLeod the wife of the St. Joe's Captain was killed by the churning pulpwood logs.
Some of the machinery was salvaged from the Transport, but both vessels were quite old, having been converted to barges after long careers. The St. Joe was built as the luxury passenger steamer City of Chicago in 1890. After the City of Chicago burned, she was cut down to the barge City of St. Joseph. The Transport, built in 1880 had served as a car ferry between Detroit and Windsor.
Today, the wrecks can be reached by taking a short fifteen minute boat ride out of Eagle Harbor. The site is usually bouyed and visibility is around 35 ft. Caution must be exercised because the lake is nearly always rough on the North shore of the Keweenaw and the water is rarely over 40 degrees. The St. Joe lies just off a rock outcropping and still possesses a good deal of her machinery, although both wrecks have been flattened to the bottom by waves and ice. The Transport lies about 100 yards closer to shore and can be visited in the same dive as the St. Joe. Although she is not usually bouyed, the remains of the Transport are visible from the surface.
References: Keweenaw Shipwrecks by Fred Stonehous, Julius F. Wolff Jr.'s Lake Superior Shipwrecks, Shipwreck! by David Swayze, Divers Guide to Michigan by Steve Harrington, Ships & Shipwrecks in Door County by Arthur and Lucy Frederickson
The City of St. Joseph The Transport on the rocks
The City of Chicago after burning The Transport when she was new