Long-Sought Superior Shipwreck Ready for National Register

Divers sought the Robert Wallace, a wooden bulk freight steamer that sank in 1902, for five years until they found it in 2006. The National Park Service is now considering its nomination for the register.

Hundreds of ships have sunk in Lake Superior, with the 1975 loss of the Edmund Fitzgerald probably the event that is best known to the general public. Divers searching for historical wrecks spent years looking for the Robert Wallace, a wooden bulk freight steamer that sank in 1902, and finally found it lying in Minnesota waters, 240 feet down near the lake’s north shore. On Friday, the National Park Service asked for comments about the shipwreck’s nomination to be added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Written comments are due by Oct. 5 on this and other pending nominations to the National Register of Historic Places, National Park Service, 1849 C St. NW, 2280, Washington, DC 20240.

The 209-foot Robert Wallace was launched in 1882 in Cleveland. It sank Nov. 17, 1902, while towing a barge; both vessels were ferrying iron ore at the time. The ship may have hit a log, or the strain of towing the barge opened a crack in its stern. The ship sank with no loss of life and remains mostly intact, according to accounts posted by the Great Lakes Shipwreck Preservation Society, which catalogs wrecks and seeks National Register protection for them. The Robert Wallace is one of 18 North Shore shipwrecks listed by GLSPS at this site.

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