Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society Uncovers 120-Year-Old Shipwreck

In October 2022, the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society (GLSHS) announced the discovery of the 292-foot Whaleback vessel, Barge 129, found in Lake Superior 35 miles off Vermilion Point in 650 feet of water. Barge 129 was found alongside eight other wrecks in 2021 by the GLSHS in partnership with Marine Sonic Technology using Side Scan Sonar.

Barge 129 sank more than 120 years ago on October 13, 1902. It was in tow of the steamer Maunaloa when they ran into a powerful October storm. The heavy seas strained and eventually snapped the towline connecting the two ships. The wind and waves slammed the two ships together, with Maunaloa’s portside anchor ripping into Barge 129’s starboard side and causing the barge to sink.

When the Shipwreck Society put its ROV down on the wreck-site in 2021, it found that Barge 129 lay broken on the bottom, split into four to five big pieces and numerous small pieces.

“The whalebacks were pretty unusual ships,” says Shipwreck Society Executive Director Bruce Lynn. “When we had the ROV on it, you could clearly see the distinctive bow with a part of the towline still in place — that was an incredible moment!”