The Samuel P. Ely has been known to sports divers since the mid or late 1950s. Local historians and sports divers recall that many artifacts were removed from the ship in 1958 or 1959, including deadeyes and tackle blocks, deck equipment, small hand tools, and iron belaying pins. Around 1961 at least one of the ship's big wood stock anchors was removed to decorate a lawn in Superior. The deck capstan was brought up by sports divers in 1974 and presented to the Lake Superior Maritime Collections in Duluth, where it is displayed on the lawn. A deck winch was removed by a sports diver and given to the S. S. Meteor Marine Museum in Superior in 1978, and a second, similar winch was taken from the wreck in the mid 1980s. The disposition of the second winch is not known. A boxed spirit compass dating from the 1880s was found near the Two Harbors east breakwater in 1984, and is on display in a local retail dive store in Duluth; there is a possibility that it came from the Ely.
In recent years, divers have reportedly removed some of the ship's red oak deck planking to make furniture and picture frames. There is little left at the site that can be easily pried, pulled, or sawn loose. No evidence of the deck-house exists, probably because deck-houses were usually built of pine lumber and so would commonly be destroyed when a ship sinks. Several other features may be seen on the ship's deck, including hand operated bilge pumps, three intact hatches, the fife rails (for belaying pins) around the foremast, and mooring bitts at the rails.
|--Samuel P. Ely--
|--Construction and Career-- |--Description of the Wreck Event--|
|--Post-Depositional Impacts-- |--Present Description-- |--Significance-- |--Photographs--|
|--Minnesota Lake Superior Shipwrecks-- |
|--Minnesota Historical Society Homepage--|