The Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society (GLSHS) has discovered the wreck of the 144-foot Barquentine Nucleus. The Nucleus was found under 600 feet of water around 40 miles northwest of Vermilion Point on Lake Superior.
The Nucleus sank on September 14th, 1869, when it was downbound from Marquette carrying a load of iron ore. The Nucleus was no stranger to accidents however. It had already sunk twice, and in 1854, rammed and sank the side-wheeler S.S. Detroit in Lake Huron.
On that September day in 1869, the Nucleus was caught in a violent storm on Lake Superior and started to take water. The leak became so bad the crew had to abandoned ship and took to their lifeboat. The Nucleus sank shortly afterwards.
If Nucleus had its share of bad luck, so too did its crew once they cast off from the sinking ship. After a few hours in their yawl, the Nucleus crew spotted, and hailed the S.S. Union. The officers reportedly spotted the Nucleus crew struggling in the storm, but chose to keep on steaming, leaving them behind. Fortunately, they were soon picked up by the schooner Worthington, with no loss of life.
The Shipwreck Society discovered the Nucleus using a Marine Sonic Technology side-scan sonar in the summer of 2021, and positively identified the wreck in 2022 using the organization’s ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle).
Photos, from above: Modern drawing of Nucleus hitting the Detroit (artwork courtesy Bob McGreevy); and Anchor of the Nucelus shipwreck (courtesy Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society).
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