The steamer M.J. Bartelme
was originally the John J. McWilliams
when she was built in West Bay City, MI. in 1895. In 1915 her name was changed to Central West
, then finally when the Valley Camp Company purchased her, the name was changed to M.J. Bartelme
. She was an ore, coal and grain freighter and she had just finished delivering a load of coal to Milwaukee when she met her demise.
Her official registry number was 77170 and she was valued at $300,000 at the time of the accident.
The M.J. Bartelme
went aground on the southeast point of Cana Island, west shore of Lake Michigan, during a thick fog on the night of October 4, 1928. The craft was bound from Milwaukee to Escanaba, running light. Wrecking tugs were unable to get to her for several days, by which time the craft had been badly damaged, large boulders having been forced up through the steel plates in the bottom. The wrecking tugs Favorite
, Leathem D. Smith
, and Arctic
all worked on the wreck for some time, and finally abandoned the job, as continual bad weather and pounding that the Bartelme
received on the rocky reef damaged her beyond repair.
The following spring various scrappers began cutting up the hull for scrap sending it either to Milwaukee or Sturgeon Bay. By the end of the summer little was left. By June of 1930 the Door County Advocate reported that the tug with two lighters in tow arrived at the Leathem Smith shipyard with the boilers and engine from the M.J. Bartelme
The vessel M.J. Bartelme has been heavily salvaged, she rests on a rock bottom in about 15 feet of water on the south end of Cana Island. Most of the bulk steel has been removed, all that was left was what was underwater. What can be seen today are numerous artifacts scattered over the site, including valves, pumps, cables, rigging, machinery, and many unidentified items.