Location: Keweenaw Peninsula off of Eagle River, Mich. LORAN: 31820.5/46554.0 LON/LAT: 47.26.26'/88.16.22' Depth: 30 - 35ft. Type: Iron Package Freighter Size: 285.5 ft x 38.9 ft. x 25.7 ft., 2329 gt Wreck Date: November 26, 1919
The Tioga was lost in a snowstorm while hauling a cargo of grain from Superior, Wisconsin to Buffalo, New York. As she passed by Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula she lost her way in the blinding snow and landed on the Eagle River Shoals, which are commonly referred to as "Sawtooth Reef." She was initially considered to be in no immediate danger, but the lake soon kicked up and three days after her stranding, she broke up in a heavy storm.
The Tioga was contructed with the latest technological advances of her day. She had a double bottom, and her freight hold had seven watertight compartments. She was a fast ship for her time, and in 1888 set a record for the fastest run from Buffalo to Chicago. The Pilothouse of Tioga was removed by local residents and now sits in the yard of a local home in Eagle River, Michigan.
The wreck itself makes an interesting dive. The water on the Keweenaw's North shore is always cold despite the shallow depths. Expect the water to be between 35 and 45 degrees Farenheit. A drysuit is not a bad idea. Tioga is fairly flattened by 75 years of pack ice raking over her, but her machinery and boilers are still present and in very good shape considering. Visibility in this area is usually quite good (40 ft or more) and there are often Lake Trout present around the wreck. Be sure to take a seaworthy boat, as the Keweenaw's North shore is seldom serene and the weather is apt to change with little warning.
References: Keweenaw Shipwrecks by Fred Stonehouse, Julius F. Wolff Jr's Lake Superior Shipwrecks, Divers Guide to Michigan by Steve Harrington, Dive of site by author.