Ships 2

Iosco and Olive Jeanette

Ships 3


Steamer Iosco And Consort Lost In Autumn ’05 Gale

By James Donahue

A series of severe storms that swept the Great Lakes in the fall of 1905 took a heavy toll of ships and lives. Among the casualties were the steamer Iosco and its consort, the schooner-barge Olive Jeanette, both sunk off Lake Superior’s Keweenaw Peninsula on September 2. A total of 26 lives were lost.

The Iosco, a 291-foot-long wooden-hulled steamship commanded by Captain Nelson Gonyaw, was steaming from Duluth with the Olive Jeanette in tow, both vessels bound for Cleveland with their holds laden with iron ore. It is believed that the storm caught them in the open waters of Lake Superior and they were running for shelter on the lea of the Keweenaw when they were lost.

No one will know what happened because there were no survivors. The Iosco carried a crew of 19 and there were another seven aboard the Olive Jeanette.

News of the loss of the two ships was learned after the tug D. L. Hebard passed wreckage that included life preservers marked Iosco off Huron Island. Also the stem of what remained of a schooner and the body of a sailor were found thrown upon the tip of Point Abbaye.

Also the light-keeper on Huron Island reported seeing a large schooner founder about four miles north of the light during the height of the storm, at about 4 p.m. on Sunday, September 3. The schooner was fighting the storm alone and there was no sighting of the Iosco.

Later the bodies of four men and one woman were found washed ashore at Pine River, near Marquette, Michigan. All were wearing life jackets with the name Iosco printed on them. As the days passed, wreckage and bodies from both vessels washed up on shore all the way from Pequaming to Big Bay.

Both vessels were older wooden-hulled ships built at Bay City. The Iosco was launched in 1891 and the schooner went into service in 1890. Both were owned by W. A. Hawgood & Company of Cleveland.

The Olive Jeanette was among the largest schooners operating on the lakes in its day. She measured 242 feet and sported four masts.



Olive Jeanette