Lake Superior Shipwrecks
Samuel P. Ely
Historic Description

The Samuel P. Ely, U.S. Registry 23780, was a single-decked, three-masted topsail schooner measuring 200 feet in length, with a 31-foot beam (width), and a 13-foot depth of hold. The Ely was rated at 627,24 gross tons and 595.85 net tons, with a carrying capacity of 1,200 tons. The original configuration of the ship's deck cannot be ascertained with certainty because no engineering plans or builders' drawings are known to exist. However, the Ely has been compared with other schooners of the type and period by using historic photographs. Photographs suggest the ship had four or five cargo hatches in the deck, each measuring approximately 8 feet square. The ship is also known to have had three masts. A low deck-house at the stern was customary, usually "sunken" into the deck 3 feet or 4 feet, so that it projected above deck level about the same distance.

S.P. Ely, ca. 1895
Port quarter view at coal dock in Detroit, ca. 1895; Dowling photo, University of Detroit, Marine Collection

The Ely was constructed in 1869 at the J.P. Clark Shipyard, Springwells, Mich., and represents the type of vessel constructed around 1870 for the shipment of iron ore. Having both integrity of wreck site and structure, the Ely represents the most complete example of the 200-foot schooner that has been found in Lake Superior. The Ely was fairly typical of Lakes sailing craft of the 1860s and 1870s, although perhaps of more sturdy build than most of its contemporaries. The vessels in the ore business were reinforced with very powerful framing members and extra bracing. The Ely shows powerful framing members with extra bracing, the latter in the form of vertical hold stanchions, hold beams, and heavy knees. The Ely was wrecked in 1896 against the west breakwater in Agate Bay, Two Harbors, Minn. The port of Two Harbors is on the North Shore of Lake Superior, 23 miles north of Duluth, Minn.. As a result of repairs and additions made to the breakwater, the shipwreck is partially embedded in its rubble mound.

|--Samuel P. Ely-- |--Historic Description--|
|--Construction and Career-- |--Description of the Wreck Event--|
|--Post-Depositional Impacts-- |--Present Description-- |--Significance-- |--Photographs--|
|--Minnesota Lake Superior Shipwrecks-- |
|--Minnesota Historical Society Homepage--|