Marinette or Menekaunee (Possibly)

Marinette 2


Schooner Barges

44.29.138  86.14.821 (accessible by boat or beach just north of the Arcadia channel)

There is a large shipwreck visible on most aerial maps just north of the channel into Lake Arcadia. The satellite image indicates the complete lower portion of a schooner. Although locals have known of this wreck for years, it has never been positively identified. 

MSRA visited the wreck in September 2015 to attempt to make an identification. At that time, the sides were buried and only the taller keelson, a massive centerline structure running the length of a ship and fastening the transverse members of the floor to the keel below, was visible. It measured at about 172 foot long and 4 feet at its widest point. The keelson appeared complete with none of its length buried or broken. Although newspaper accounts suggest that the 172-foot Menekaunee and 176-foot Marinette sank farther north near Frankfort, it is possible that this wreck is one of those two vessels. If this wreck is either the Menekaunee, or the Marinette one might wonder why accounts list its loss as Frankfort. However, in 1886, the channel into Lake Arcadia was not yet constructed and the newly established town of Arcadia was small. Newspaper reporters could have noted the largest nearby town as a more recognizable place of the loss.


The 172-foot Menekaunee, originally listed as a 3-masted schooner barge and the 176-foot 3-masted schooner Marinette were both built in in 1873 in Saugatuck, Michigan by J. Martel for the Menominee Barge Line Co. of Milwaukee. No historic photographs of these ships have been found. In August 1886, Henry J. Laud of Loud & Co., Oscoda, Michigan purchased both ships, but would not own them for very long.


On November 19, 1886, while being towed by the steam barge Manistique in a 3-day northwest gale, the Menekaunee and Marinette broke tow off the Manitous and eventually washed ashore, reportedly in the area of Frankfort.  The Frankfort Lifesaving Service struggled to get their apparatus to the beach, but were too late. Along shore south of Frankfort, they found a mass of lumber, gear, and bodies on the beach protected by the ship’s dog, which died soon after. All seven crewmember of the Menekaunee were lost. Six of seven lives were lost including the woman cook and her 13-year-old daughter from the Marinette. It is unclear who the survivor was if the newspaper accounts were correct.   

According to the Marine Record of May 5, 1887, the wrecking schooner Experiment, of Racine, Captain Mike Beffel, was engaged in picking up the lumber of the wrecked barges Menekaunee and Marinette, the following summer. W.M. Woodward has recovered three anchors and chains from the barges thus far. On May 12, the Marine record reported that Captain Beffell of the wrecking schooner Experiment, found the body of a sailor in the wreckage of the Menekaunee. There was nothing to identify it. The remains were buried in Frankfort.


MSRA photographed the wreck in September 2015. Images by Valerie van Heest indicate how shallow and close to shore the wreck is. The massive keelson indicates that it was at one time a very large, solidly built ship.

Marinette 1

Marinette 3

Marinette 4

Marinette 5

Marinette 6

Marinette 8