||0-10 Feet |
|| Two relatively intact lower hulls and an iron-sheathed bow invite exploration by snorkelers, kayakers and divers.
at Bullhead Point in Sturgeon
Bay are three tangible reminders of the city's once-flourishing
limestone industry. The three vessels are lying in 0-10 feet
of water, offering an excellent opportunity for divers, snorkelers,
and kayakers to visit these interesting wrecks. The remains
of all three vessels can be seen from the shore. Visibility
at the site ranges from 10-25 feet, and water temperature
varies from about 45 to 60°F
in the summer.
|The Bullhead Point shipwrecks today.
Bullhead Point site consists of four features: the shipwrecks
Empire State, Ida Corning, and Oak Leaf,
and the point itself. Located on the west side of Surgeon
Bay, Bullhead Point proper is a large rock outcropping piled
on an older rock crib pier structure, approximately 380 feet
in length by 200 feet at its greatest width.
to the long axis of Bullhead Point are the remains of the
propeller-driven steamer Empire State. The
large for a mid nineteenth-century wooden ship, at 212 feet
in length, with a beam of 35 feet.
sheathed in iron, the vessel's wooden hull is constructed
with a complex system of integrated iron strapping for longitudinal
reinforcement. The Empire State's
is nearly on shore at water level and the
is buried under
a considerable pile of stone. The weight of this stone has
distorted the ship from its original sleek shape and threatens
to break off the
is listing to port 10
to 15 degrees, and the entire wreck has twisted under the
stress of its stone load. Rising approximately one foot above
the water's surface, the
is still sheathed with a
massive iron shoe for protection from ice, as was the custom
for many vessels on the lakes.
The vessel is heavily constructed
considerably heavier than those of the other two
Bullhead Point vessels. Notably, frame sets are tripled and
quadrupled toward the after part of the ship to support the
boilers and engines, which were removed during the vessel's
conversion to a stone barge. Although the propeller and
shaft were also removed as part of the vessel's conversion,
much of the
portion of the shaft remains in place.
Empire State's port side and bow rise off the bottom
nearly to the surface in some 10 to 12 feet of water, and
the steamer's starboard side is embedded in the point's eastern
shoreline. Consequently, it appears that the old steamer was
sunk to extend the loading dock and present a new deep face
for the wharf. Ships with a 12-foot draft could easily load
off the Empire State's port side.