July 09, 2011

You Tube Video of the Niagara Shipwreck:
Shipwreck of the Niagara

Waking up at 5am to drive out to Port Washington Wisconsin is always a charm in the hot summer morning as I not only have to dodge late night drunk drivers on the highway, but I have to make the boat charter by 7am so we can get on the water before the waves start and afternoon thunderstorns attempt to roll in on our dive plans. Thankfully the weather was looking quite nice and proved to be a nice calm day once I whiplashed around milwaukee as the sun was rising and pull into Port Washington almost two hours after I left Chicago.  I went with Jerry Geyer and the Len-Der Charter which has always been a great boat to dive from, nice people, secure boat, but it was a little slow getting out to the wrecks.  The First wreck we went to visit after loading up 12 people on this steel screamer was the Niagara.
Shipwreck of the Niagara

The Shipwreck of the Niagara is a 230Ft Side Wheel Steamer that was built in 1845
In September of 1865, the Niagara caught fire about 7 miles north east of Port Washington Wisconsin taking down 60 passengers out of the 170 people on board.  The claim was that the fire started in the engine room and quickly escalated throughout the boat within 10 minutes.  The passengers panicked and started to jump in the frigid Lake Michigan Waters.  Most of the Niagara's lie boats sunk due to people attempting to board the lifeboats except for one.  Thankfully there were other boats in the area that came to save the remaining passengers.   I have been told that some of these passengers with from europe and they woudl carry coins inside their clothes to sneak extra money into America so in the past, divers haev found dutch coins and other artifacts in the debris field which is now illegal to remove any artifacts from this site.  The is in 50 ft of water and pretty broken up but her sidewheel is noticable and her large engine is still pretty well intact.  The captain blamed the cargo for the fire as he felt that the engine room was fireproof.    hington. Today the remains of the Niagara rest in about 55 feet of water. The Niagara's huge boilers that are still intact and can be found north of the wreck. The Niagara is a historical site and it is illegal to remove artifacts from the it. A good dive for intermediate divers.

The water conditions were glass!! calm as can be and quiet out there.  The water was also really clear! around 40-50ft of viz from the surface.  I finally make it down to the wreck and make a traverse over the badly broken up wreckage and boiler.  You can make out where the sidewheel is and some of the haul planking was in tact but everything else was pretty badly broken up.  The boiler was still in tact. It was a fun dive and the second dive proved to be another interesting one on the Brig Mahoning.

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