Finally – after 110 years, the shipwreck of the Pere Marquette 18 ferry was found.

It was just after midnight on September 9, 1910 when the ship left Ludington, heading to Milwaukee transporting 62 people – passengers and crew members -  and 29 railroad cars. Halfway across Lake Michigan, the ship began taking on water under the main propeller shafts; soon it had sunk to a level where the water began pouring in through the portholes.

A distress signal was sent- “Carferry 18 sinking; help” - but there was no way they could get a confirmation that it had been received. Trying anything they could do to save the ship, some of the men desperately began pushing the heavy railroad cars off the boat into the deep water to get rid of weight.

However, help came in the form of another ship, the Pere Marquette 17. Had they got there just a little bit earlier, they could have saved more. Just as #17 arrived, #18 swiftly sank, stern first, to the bottom of Lake Michigan, 500 feet deep. 29 people went down with the ship, all others were rescued.

What caused the flooding and sinking? No one may ever know, since all ship officers did not survive.

A team of Great Lakes shipwreck hunters found the ship lolling about on the bottom of Lake Michigan. They noted that the stern – where the water came in - was buried deep in the bottom, making it almost impossible to investigate how the flooding occurred. The depth of the stern buried in the lake bottom indicates a highly accelerated sinking and hard impact.

This event has its own Michigan Historical Marker, located in Ludington at Stearns Park.
Take a look at the photos below!


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