Table of Contents
  • Freighter
  • 180ffw
  • 178ft Length
  • Whitefish Bay, Lake Superior
  • 46° 51′ 58.44″ N, 85° 5′ 12.6″ W

Chronological History #

  • 1883 Received machinery, 1 firebox boiler; 21″, 37″ X 36″, fore & aft compound engine by Dry Dock Engine Works, Detroit, MI; number 110; single screw.
  • 1883, Apr 27 Owned W. C. Richardson, et al, Ashtabula, OH.
  • 1884 Rebuilt, added an upper deck, 891.02 gross tons, 3 masts.
  • 1884, Jul 27 Sunk by collision, Lake Superior.
  • 1885 Enrollment surrendered, Cleveland, “Vessel Lost”.
  • 1984 Wreck located.

Vessel Type: Wooden Bulk Freighter
Location: Whitefish Bay, MI
Vessel Build Info: 1882, Morley & Hill, Marine City
Shipwreck Specs: 178 ft., 891g 711n
Official Number: 76307
Names Other: none also spelled OSBORN

Sinking Detail
Bound Marquette for Ashtabula with two barges in tow, she collided with the steel passenger steamer ALBERTA, which stayed in the gash until most of OSBORNE’s crew had scrambled aboard. She then sank into 20 fathoms of water. The accident happened in fog. This was ALBERTA’s third serious collision of the year. Out of Cleveland.
Loss Date: 7/27/1884
Loss Place: 6 mi NNW of Whitefish Point
Loss Life: 4 or 5*
Loss Reason: Collision
Vessel Cargo: Iron Ore

The JOHN M. OSBORNE (Official Number 76307) was built in 1882, by Morley & Hill of, Marine City Michigan.   It was a wooden steam barge built for bulk freight with dimensions length of 178 ft, a beam of 32 ft, and a depth of 14 ft.  It was owned by W.C. Richardson of Ashtabula, Ohio.  On July 27, 1884, in the thick fog, she was sunk by the Canadian steamer ALBERTA, 6 miles west-northwest of Whitefish Point, Lake Superior.  The Osborne had departed Marquette bound for Ashtabula, Ohio with a load of iron ore and two barges in tow, when she collided with the steel passenger steamer Alberta.  The Alberta stayed in the gash until most of Osborne’s crew scrambled aboard.  Four crew of the Osborne and one from the ALBERTA lost their lives in the collision. This was Alberta’s third serious collision of the year.

The Site:  The Osborne was discovered in 1984 in 170′ of water about 6 miles WNW of Whitefish Pt.  Although a tech dive, it is also one of the best dives in the Whitefish area.  The ship is in a very good state of preservation and is another great example of a wooden freighter of the 1880s era.  The bow with the anchors is a highlight of the dive.  Although the pilot house and cabins are gone the stem and deck are intact.  The kedge-style anchors still rest on deck where they were stowed.  Much of the stern is collapsed.  The stern cabins are gone apparently wiped out by the boiler’s path as it slides across the deck as the ship sank.  The engine is intact and is an unusual design from this early era.  The coal bunker can be penetrated and is very interesting and still filled with coal.  There is usually a mooring line attached to the wreck to a deck winch.

Advanced Diver Mag – Vlada Dekina/Tom Wilson

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