Shipwreck Society finds 153-year-old wreck of “Bad Luck Barquentine” in Lake Superior

(ABC 6 News) – The Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society (GLSHS) is celebrating the find of a “bad luck” ship that sank 153 years ago in Lake Superior.

Searchers discovered the 144-foot Barquentine, Nucleus, under 600 feet of water approximately 40 miles northwest of Vermilion point on Lake Superior.

The GLSHS discovered the Nucleus using a Marine Sonic Technology side-scan sonar in the summer of 2021, and positively identified the wreck in 2022 using the organization’s ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle).

Back on Sept. 14, 1869, the Nucleus sank as it took on water during a powerful storm while carrying a load of iron ore from Marquette, Mich. The leak became so bad the crew had to abandoned ship to their lifeboat. 

The Nucleus crew then spotted and hailed the S.S. Union. The officers reportedly spotted the Nucleus crew struggling in the storm, but chose to leave them behind.

The crew was eventually picked up by the schooner, Worthington, and suffered no loss of life.

The “bad luck” ship was no stranger to accidents. It had already sunk twice before and was involved in 11 accidents. In 1854, it rammed into and sank the S.S. Detroit.

The Nucleus sinking in 1869, makes it one of the oldest ships to go down along Lake Superior’s Shipwreck Coast.

Nucleus (Credit: Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society)