The Monohansett’s four-blade, steel propeller sits upright on the limestone bottom. This 14-foot prop has fixed blades, unlike larger Great Lakes vessels that had removable blades that would be replaced due to frequent ice damage. The rudder attachment, with bent gudgeons still attached, lies to port.
Located just off the stern of the wreck, the Monohansett’s firebox boiler rises to within ten feet of the surface. The 4-foot diameter boiler rests on its side with the openings to the steam drum exposed. By the 1870s, coal-fired boilers had mostly replaced earlier wood-fired types.
Thunder Bay Island fills the background of this image that illustrates the accessibility of the wreck site. The shallow depth and clear water make it an ideal excursion for divers, snorkelers, and kayakers.
The life-saving team that rescued the crew of the Monohansett was stationed on Thunder Bay Island, only 500 feet away, and was able to reach the burning vessel quickly.
This crystal clear image shows the Monohansett’s compound steeple engine still attached to the drive shaft. It is here, in the engine room, that the fire started that ultimately sent the wooden freighter to the bottom of Lake Huron. According to the second engineer, a torch tipped over and flames quickly consumed the wooden vessel and its coal cargo. The fire was so bright it could be seen from the city of Alpena, eight miles away.
This vantage gives the impression that the boiler just toppled off the stern of the vessel moments before the shot was taken. The placement of the boiler and other machinery aft, and the technological advancement from sidewheelers to screw propellers, provided bulk freighters with what the growing industries of the Great Lakes demanded: more cargo space.
From the beautiful blues and greens of Lake Huron waters, the heavy framing structure of the Monohansett emerges. Oak keelsons rest on top of evenly spaced frames, a configuration designed to accommodate heavy bulk cargoes of iron ore, lumber, and the wooden propeller’s final cargo, 900 tons of coal.
To provide better access to Thunder Bay’s historic shipwrecks, the sanctuary maintains seasonal moorings at many popular shipwreck sites. The moorings make the sites easier to locate and provide a safe means of ascent and descent for divers. The moorings also eliminate anchor damage to these unique and irreplaceable historic sites.