Brief History of Mayflower

The Mayflower was a 147-foot 230 ton scow-schooner built in 1889 which sank in a storm on June 2,1891.  She was trying to make it to the Duluth Entry in a storm with a cargo of sandstone from the Portage Entry; sandstone to be used in constructing Duluth's High School. In moderate seas driven by a northwesterly wind, Captain Zirbest ordered her sails lowered, perhaps prematurely.  The cargo shifted when the ship broached causing her to capsize.  Three crew members were saved by the tug Cora A. Sheldon except for Captain Zirbest, who drowned when he lost grip on the life line thrown to him.   It is not clear from historical accounts if the Mayflower was under her own power or was being towed by the Cora A. Sheldon at the time of the accident.  The Mayflower was a $9000 loss. 

It was discovered in 1991 lying in 90 foot of water scarcely 500 feet off the shipping lane four miles from the Duluth Entry.  The Mayflower is a rare example of a somewhat intact Great Lakes Scow Schooner.  These blunt bow vessels were lightly built and few remain as more than a pile of boards.  Two examples exist in Lake Superior -- the Grey Oak in Thunder Bay and the Mayflower. 

Visibility on the site is rarely over 10 to 15 feet and is highly variable.  The accompanying photos were taken in the fall of 2003 when we had 20 feet of visibility and 2006 when the visibility was 50 feet due to a late season drought and a lower than normal flow out of the St. Louis River.   The visibility appears to typically be best in the fall. 

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