Onoko, 1915 #
Launched from Cleveland in 1882, the steamer Onoko was the first iron-hulled, iron-screw steam freighter on the Great Lakes. Due to its economic success it became the prototype for the Great Lakes bulk freighter, a very large and important class of commercial ship that made possible the cheap transport of raw materials for the steel industry, including iron ore, coal and limestone. On September 15, just 25 miles out of Duluth and carrying 110,000 bushels of wheat, the Onoko developed a serious leak under its machinery. In 35 minutes, it had sunk in 220 feet of water. The crew of 16 and one passenger escaped safely in the ship’s lifeboats, and were quickly picked up by the Standard Oil steamer Renown and taken to Duluth. Because the ship is almost entirely unchanged, intact, and undisturbed, it continues to provide valuable shipbuilding technology information, evaluative data about the performance of pioneer iron ships, and insights into the requirements of manning ships in the late 19th century.