Ships 2


Ships 3

Scotia's Sister Ship Russia

Scotia Wrecked On Keweenaw Point


By James Donahue


An early winter gale on Lake Superior became the force behind the wreck of the iron hulled package freighter Scotia at the tip of Michigan’s Keweenaw Point on October 24, 1884.


The 231-foot-long steamship, Captain Bogart at the helm, was traveling without cargo and bound for Duluth when it got caught in the storm packing snow and high winds. The crew was blinded by a white-out snow squall while the vessel was negotiating the passage between Manitou Island and Keweenaw Point and ran hard aground on the point.


The hull of the vessel apparently was not breached. One brief account of the grounding tells how the crew tried to use the ship’s 600 horsepower engines and twin propellers to back off into deep water. Because the Scotia was already traveling light the old trick of jettisoning cargo to raise the hull was not in the books.


The passing steamer Nyack later took off crew members. The steamer’s new owner, The Commercial Line, dispatched a wrecking crew to the scene. Before the tugs arrived the area was hit by another storm with powerful waves that cracked the hull. The Scotia was declared a total loss. The engines, boilers and 150 tons of scrap metal were salvaged and what was left of the wreck remains at that site, in about 200 feet of water, to this day.


Sport divers in the 1970s salvaged one of the ship’s propellers and it is on display at Fort Wilkins State Park.


The Scotia was one of four identical iron ships built by the King Iron Co. of Buffalo. The sister ships, apparently all of them owned by the Commercial Line, were the Java, Russia and Cuba. No photo of the Scotia could be found so a picture of the Russia appears with this story to show what the lost steamer looked like.