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  Final Voyage page 2


The 3,000-ton cargo of anthracite coal, valued at $30,000 in 1923, inspired several salvage attempts. When initial search efforts failed to locate the vessel, it was assumed to have sunk in deep water. The early searchers, however, had looked too far to the north. On June 29, 1923, the Door County Advocate reported that Charles Innes of North Bay and Chester Smith of Milwaukee had found the wreck of the O'Connor. The men, using two gasoline launches and a 1,000-foot-long rope sweep, dragged the area off North Bay and quickly found the ship. In August and September of that year, the Marine Salvage and Wrecking Company of Milwaukee worked for five weeks using centrifugal pumps to suck coal off the wreck. Hampered by bad weather, they recovered only 700 tons, not enough to warrant further efforts. The wreckers also claimed that most of the coal had been lost when the sides of the ship burned away.

In 1935, Charles Innes, still believing that money could be made from the old steamer, interested the noted Chicago diver Frank Blair in another salvage attempt. Innes' son-in-law, Charles Rohrback, relocated the wreck after three weeks of dragging "about three miles off of the point in 65 feet of water." One hundred tons of coal were recovered from the site, and plans were made to return the following year with better equipment. The latter scheme never came to fruition, and the O'Connor lay quietly forgotten until rediscovered by modern sports divers.

The rediscovery of the Frank O'Connor was reported to the Wisconsin Historical Society in the fall of 1990. Its proximity to shore and moderate depth make the site accessible to sport divers and looters. Because of its archeological value and its vulnerability to thievery, the Frank O'Connor became top priority for field survey in 1991.

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