In August 2008, Jerry Ranville at the DNR’s Charlevoix Fisheries Research Station encountered a target in deep water off Point Betsie while conducting studies of fish populations. He contacted MSRA with the hopes that the organization would dive, identify, and document the wreck.

Scan of Redfern

bottom finder image of the redfern

As MSRA planned for a dive to the site and began research to develop a list of potential ships, the organization learned that divers Thaddius Bedford of Mayfield, then president of the Manitou Passage Underwater Preserve,  with the help of Gaylord shipwreck hunter Stan Stock had located this same target in 2002, six years earlier.

They had identified the shipwreck as the Redfern, but had not returned to the site, nor made any plans for further documentation.  Before MSRA could visit the site, the divers approached the Traverse City Record Eagle newspaper with the discovery, as reported in brief on October 2, 2008. According to the article, “Bedford chose to reveal his finds now, years after their initial discoveries, because he’s faced pressure to claim them before other shipwreck hunters grab the credit,” he said.

While MSRA is not interested in “grabbing credit,” it is interested in documenting shipwrecks and sharing that information with the public. Thus far no further information has been revealed about this shipwreck by the original discovery team. In the coming years, MSRA may have the opportunity to further document this wreck and post information at this site after which time the location will be posted, with full credit to the original discoverers.

The following information is generally known from the records of the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary:

Redfern- Labadie 2The C.E. Redfern was built by Frank W. Wheeler in West Bay City MI in 1890 as a schooner-barge with 2 masts. (Official number US 126609) W. H. Sawyer of Tonawanda, N.Y. was the original owner. The vessel  was 181 feet long, with a 34 foot beam.

The Redfern sank  off Point Betsie in Lake Michigan in a storm on September 9, 1937. Her crew was rescued by the crew of the car ferry Ann Arbor #4  along with the crew of the U. S.  Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba.

The Redfern had a routine and rather safe history under a number of owners until her final day. from 1890 to 1913 the vessel was towed by the steambarge W. H. Sawyer along with the schooner Truxbury in the lumber trade. in 1904, ownership transferred to John Jenkins of Marine City, Michigan. The in 1906 the owners of the  E. N. Hines Lumber Co. of Chicago, Illinois purchased the vessel.

In 1917, the Hamilton Transportation Company of Chicago took over opwnerships and in 1926, converted her to a crane equipped motor vessel, with two engines: both 4 cylinder 10 x 12.5″, 220 hp @ 360 rpm, diesel engines built by Fairbanks-Morse Company of Beloit, Wisconsin. these engines were fed by an 11’6″ x 13′, 165# steam, donkey boiler from the Johnston Brothers, Ferrysburg, Michigan.

In 1928, the Redfern was owned by J. L. Larson of Bay City, Michigan and by 1935, by Norris R. Wentworth of Bay City, Michigan.