The wooden steambarge M. C. Neff
was built In Oshkoosh by Ryan & Company in 1888 as a lumber hooker. The Neff
was named in honor of Samuel Neff's wife, Marcelia. The vessel was powered by a single cylinder, non condensing steam engine built by Doman & Manuel Iron Works in Oshkosh. The new vessel was appraised at $25,000.
The M.C. Neff
spent its entire life in the lumber trade. In the early 1900's the owner, William F. Thompson, had the steambarge converted into a crane barge at the Superior Shipbuilding yard to facilitate the loading and unloading the lumber.
On September 19,1909 the crew of the M.C. Neff
unload the cargo of bridge pilings on the banks of the St. Louis River on the Wisconsin side of the river.. Early the next morning it was discovered that a fire had broke out deep within the ship. It soon became obvious that they couldn't save the vessel so the mooring lines were cut and by daybreak the Neff
had burned to the waterline and sank. Some of the machinery was salvaged, but the hull remained where it had sank. The loss amounted to $18,000 to the owners, Thompson and Lavaque Lumber Company.
Some of the artifacts were removed by divers in the 1960's and 1970's and taken to the Fairlawn Mansion in Superior, Wisconsin. Later, they were moved to the Douglas County Historical Society.
Today remains of the hull still exist, resting in about twelve feet of water, with some frames and planking evident. The windlass and part of the engine are still present.