Skip to main content

Shipwreck Found in Lake Michigan: The Sinking of the L.R. Doty as Covered in 19th-Century Newspapers

Posted on 06/30/2010

The Doty at the Soo Locks 1896 - Andrew Young photo courtesy of the Historical Collections of the Great Lakes

On June 24, the Associated Press (AP) distributed an article about the recent discovery of the L.R. Doty, a steamship that sank in Lake Michigan in 1898.  The article begins: 

A great wooden steamship that sank more than a century ago in a violent Lake Michigan storm has been found off the Milwaukee-area shoreline, and divers say the intact vessel appears to have been perfectly preserved by the cold fresh waters.  "Finding the 300-foot-long L.R. Doty was important because it was the largest wooden ship that remained unaccounted for," said Brendon Baillod, the president of the Wisconsin Underwater Archaeology Association.

When the L.R. Doty sank on October 27, 1898, the reports about its demise were numerous.  A brief article in the October 28, 1898 issue of the Dallas Morning News only listed the names of the captain, the chief engineer, and the first mate. 

Dallas Morning News

On the same day, an article in the Idaho Daily Statesman provided additional information about debris and wreckage spotted by the tug boat Prodigy, about 25 miles off shore from Kenosha, Wisconsin 

Idaho Statesman

The L.R. Doty was not the only ship to sink in the Great Lakes during the 1898 season.  As was reported in the December 26, 1898 issue of the Duluth News Tribune, 569 individuals lost their lives to maritime accidents in the freshwater seas on the Canada-U.S. border.  Lake Michigan recorded the largest number of losses. 

Duluth News Tribune

With the recent discovery of the largely intact L.R. Doty, a final chapter on the ship and its crew may now be written. For more information on the ship and its discovery, including underwater images, visit the informative web site of Great Lakes shipwreck researcher Brendon Baillod.

Stay in Touch

Receive product news, special offers and invitations, or the acclaimed Readex Report

Sign Up

By clicking "Sign Up", you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.