The Selah Chamberlain
was registered as a steam barge in May of 1873. She had a single deck and three masts. Within a year another deck was added thereby increasing her carrying capacity. She generally was used to transport items such as coal, iron ore and wheat between Buffalo and Duluth. She was often seen towing a consort to further increase the carrying capacity.
On October 13, 1886, the Selah Chamberlain
and her consort Fayette Brown
left Milwaukee bound for Escanaba, Mich., to load up on iron ore that would then be transported to Cleveland. While heading north the Chamberlain
encountered inclement weather. That evening at 8:30 and approximately seven miles from shore the Chamberlain
heard another vessel's whistle directly ahead. Captain Greenly immediately signaled her whistle once and turned the vessel's wheel aport, but it was already too late. The Selah Chamberlain
was struck in the port bow by what was later determined as the John Pridgeon Jr.
After the collision, the Chamberlain
cut her tow Fayette Brown
and headed west towards shore. In the end the Selah Chamberlain
sank in approximately 15 minutes after the collision.
Over the next few years a couple of salvage operations attempted to raise the Chamberlain
at great time and expense. The Selah Chamberlain
was never salvaged.
The wreck of the Selah Chamberlain
is located 2 miles north east of Sheboygan Point in 90' of water. She is broken into three pieces and lies on a sandy bottom. Much of the lower hull still remains and the fan tail stern split exposing the boilers and the engine. The major features include two boilers which rest on wooden floors reinforced with steel I-beams. The cast iron frame of the tandem engine rises twenty-five feet above the bottom, displaying many decorative elements not found on later engines. The horn timber and rudder still stand to mark the vessel's stern.
A dive guide for this vessel is available for purchase.