On the Water

Propeller Indiana’s Cargo of Iron Ore

On 6 June 1858, the propeller Indiana sank in Lake Superior transporting its owner, three passengers and 280 tons of iron ore from Marquette, MI to Sault Ste. Marie, MI. The ship was insured for $9,000; the ore was insured separately for an undisclosed amount. One contemporary newspaper stated that it was the “first cargo of Lake Superior iron ore ever lost on the lakes.”

The ship landed upright and slightly bow down on the lakebed in 120 feet of water; the bow split open and ore spilled out onto the sandy bottom. The deck of the shipwreck remains covered with iron ore today, and the cargo hold is filled about three feet deep with ore as well.

Samples of the ore were recovered in 1979; upon analysis, they revealed that a high percentage of pure iron.

ID Number:
1979.1030.12
Material:
metal, iron ore
Dimensions:
3.000 x 1.000 x 11.000 ft
Source:
Gift of Michigan Department of State, Michigan History Division (through Bruce J. Andrews)

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