The bow of the Grecian looms out of the shadows of Lake Huron. The stillness belies the speed for which late nineteenth-century freighters were known. Newspapers heralded the Grecian and its five sister ships as “fast steel flyers’ that carried the growing nation’s iron ore across the Great Lakes.
Collapsed amidships, this cross section of the Grecian’s hull exposes details of early steel ship construction. The use of steel revolutionized ship construction during the Grecian’s era, as builders began to choose it over wood to produce stronger yet lighter hulls. Unfortunately, the Grecian wasn’t quite strong enough. In June 1906, the fast freighter struck a reef in northern Lake Huron, tearing a hole in the bottom. While being towed to Detroit for repair, the damaged vessel flooded and sank near Thunder Bay.
In this view, the three cylinders of the Grecian’s triple expansion steam engine are easily made out. Just forward, two huge boilers peek out, their fire tubes visible above the deck combing.
The aft section of the Grecian wreck is still very much intact. Beneath the stern the rudder is still there, albeit just two blade. Just aft of the wreck a "canalon" used in a salvage attempt sits flattened on the lakebed.
In this image below the collapsed decks of the Grecian, remnants of deck planking rest among still-intact steel beams and stanchions. Even at 100 feet, the waters surrounding the once-swift steel freighter are clear and blue.
The forward section of the Grecian has collasped down, almost flat with the lakebed. The port side hull section can seen, but the starboard side is hidden underneath the intact deck.
The Grecian’s mammoth bow windlass stands out in the background, surrounded by remains of deck railing. A davit leans to starboard.
Capstans, like the one seen here, are a standard device on seagoing vessels. Situated vertically on the top deck, they are used to gain mechanical advantage when hauling ropes, lines, and cables. Openings are still evident in the Grecian's capstan where levers would be inserted and used to turn it. Invasive zebra mussels and patches of rust hint at the decades the Grecian has spent under the waters of Lake Huron.
Valued at $75,000 when she sank, the prospect of raising Grecian attracted at least one creative salvage company. In 1909, the Staud Canalon Salvage Company attempted to refloat the nearly 300-foot wreck by chaining to it four canalons- huge steel tanks that could be pumped with air. Although Grecian refused to budge, Staud a year later proposed to use his system to raise the battleship USS MAINE, which sank in Havana Harbor in 1898.