The wooden schooner Portland, one of the most accessible shipwrecks in Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, lies a short swim away from shore.
Built in 1863, the 150-foot Portland carried bulk cargo across the Great Lakes for 14 years. Loaded with 300 tons of salt, the two-masted schooner encountered a fierce Lake Huron storm in October 1877. The gale drove Portland ashore, where relentless waves and jagged rocks tore the schooner to pieces. The entire crew survived; Portland was a total loss.
Today, snorkelers, paddlers, and divers can explore the scattered remains of Portland in Lake Huron’s clear water. A seasonal mooring buoy marks the 130-foot main section of the wreck, the schooner’s lower hull and starboard side. This wreckage rests in just six feet of water, about 100 yards from the beach.
Another large section of the wreck, the stern section, rests in a few feet of water in a naturally formed lagoon just north of the main trail to the beach.
Besides the two main sections, small parts of Portland are scattered throughout the area. Wind, waves, and ice move pieces of the wreck and occasionally push them ashore. If you find them, please leave them in place. Do not disturb, take or burn them. Federal and state regulations prohibit removing or damaging artifacts or wreckage.