Lake Ontario Shipwreck – Dredge Gordon

Found by:  Dan Scoville & Chris Koberstein – July 2012

Location:  Off Oswego, NY

Part of Ill-Fated Tow Found by Shipwreck Explorers deep in Lake Ontario off Oswego, NY

At approximately 4:40 am on the night of November 17th, 1879 the crew of the dredge Gordon fought for their lives in a Lake Ontario gale.  Few lived to tell the tale of the last moments before the barge turned on its side and sank in deep water.


Despite all efforts to keep dredge Gordon clear she listed over and water flooded into the engine room door.  Efforts were made to hail tug Seymour but wind and snow prevented the tug from seeing their distress.  At this time there were 9 cold souls on dredge Gordon.  The first to go were Mr. Arnold and Patrick Eagan.  They were standing close together near the stern of the dredge when a large wave came over and they were carried away.    Next Mr. Palmer and his wife were swept off the dredge by a large wave in spite of the best efforts of Fireman Smith to hold onto them.  Billy and Sam Logan held out for about 15 minutes more before they were too cold to hang on and Lake Ontario claimed two more victims.  Daylight was starting to break and tug Seymour abandoned the tow line and came stern on to pick up the remaining 3 seaman left on the Gordon.  Only fireman Smith was still able to help himself.  Charles and Neal Hanthan were both unconscious and frothing from the mouth.
Over the next day many of the scows and dredges were found ashore between Oswego and Sodus bay.  Of the 31 persons that sailed on the fleet only the 6 on the Gordon lost their lives.

Dredge Gordon Is Found
On July 5th 2012 a team consisting of Dan Scoville and Chris Koberstein were using side scan sonar to search the bottom of Lake Ontario for lost shipwrecks.   It was 1:22 AM when the boat’s fish finder showed a large object protruding about 20ft off the lake bottom directly under the boat.  I would only be a short wait until the sonar, some 2000ft behind the boat, would pass the wreck giving us a better idea of what was on the bottom.  The image the sonar generated was that of a large vessel that was over on its starboard side, boxy in appearance and very intact.

The Dive to the Wreck
On July 7, 2012 the lake was calm and Chris lowered the remote operated vehicle (ROV) into the lake while Dan took the controls.  After a fifteen minute decent the ROV landed on a featureless bottom a few hundred feet away from the wreck.  Dan turned on the sector scanning sonar to locate the wreck and navigate the ROV to it.  A few short minutes later the ROV’s lights Illuminated the wooden hull of the dredge Gordon not seen since 1879.

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