The steam powered rail car ferry Manistique Marquette Northern I was launched at Cleveland, Ohio in December 1902. Her name was changed to Milwaukee in late 1908 when she was sold to the Grand Trunk Milwaukee Car Ferry Company to be used on the Milwaukee-Grand Haven run carrying boxcars or freight. Her earlier years had reflected frequent changes in ownership and management, but the Milwaukee served the Grand Trunk Company well with only minor accidents. She spent many winters in Grand Haven working through the frozen harbor.
"October 22,1929. The car ferry Milwaukee left Milwaukee at 3;00 p.m. for the return trip to Grand Haven, heading into a northeaster gale. She passed the U.S. Lightship No.95 at 3:45 p.m. three miles east of Milwaukee, and was never seen again. According to her message case, by 8:30 that night, she was taking in water fast and had turned around, heading back towards Milwaukee. By then, the sea gate was bent in and the crews quarters were flooded." Since there were no survivors, it will never be known what exactly happened, but it appears that she had turned so her stern was to the seas and with the sea gate bent in, waves passing onto and below the decks swamped her. It appears the rail cars had broken loose and may have caused the damage to the sea gate. In 1972 divers located the wreck ten miles off the Milwaukee breakwater, resting upright in 120 feet of water.
The wreck of the Milwaukee lies in 125 feet of water off of Whitefish Bay approximately six miles north of Milwaukee and three miles off shore. The wreck sits upright on a sand and muck bottom with the superstructure about 100 feet east of the hull. The cargo of tubs along with railroad cars (one has three cars in it) are still located on the wreck. Some of the stern box cars are missing and at least one is sideways on the deck.
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