Lake Superior Shipwrecks
Thomas Wilson
Post-Depositional Impacts

Immediately following the sinking of the Thomas Wilson, the superstructure was dynamited to remove it as a hazard to navigation. In August 1902, the wreck was purchased by the Wieland brothers for $10,000. Their plan to salvage the vessel's ore cargo was abandoned, however, due to inadequate technology. In August 1939, George Wieland announced a second attempt to salvage the Wilson's cargo and raise the wreck. This attempt was also abandoned.

Scuba divers began to visit the Wilson during the 1950's. In March, 1962, a third attempt to salvage the Wilson's cargo ended after retrieving a boot and a trunk full of clothing, presumably belonging to a member of the Wilson's crew. The interior of the wreck of the Wilson was first penetrated by diver Elmer Engman in 1970. Since that time only about half a dozen local divers dive inside it. The majority of divers who visit the Wilson (approximately 50 individuals annually) confine their explorations to the vessel's exterior.

In 1973, an expedition sponsored by the Lake Superior Maritime Collections raised the Wilson's starboard kedge anchor. A subsequent expedition in 1978 raised he Wilson's McDougall patent anchor from the vessel's port bow. Both these anchors are displayed at the Museum. Several additional smaller items have been removed from the wreck over the years, including several portholes, pieces of the wheel, an oil lamp, two bells, the gauge board and the engine plate. These are held in private hands or at local museums.

photo
Rubbing of engine plate recovered from wreck; MHS/SHPO Collections


The wreck of the Wilson is located immediately off the Duluth Ship Canal and has been subject to repeated injury by anchors from ships utilizing the harbor. Damage to the forward midships area of the hull has been extensive.


|--Thomas Wilson-- |--Historic Description--|
|--Construction and Career-- |--Whaleback Freighters-- |--Description of the Wreck Event--|
|--Post-Depositional Impacts-- |--Present Description-- |--Significance-- |--Photographs--|
|--Minnesota Lake Superior Shipwrecks-- |
|--Minnesota Historical Society Homepage--|