The two-masted schooner barge Sidney O. Neff
was built in 1890-91 by Burger & Burger shipyard in Manitowoc for S. Neff & Sons as a tow consort to the steamer St. Joseph
for use in the lumber trade. The boat was sold in 1897 to George Robertson of Grand Haven, Michigan and converted to a single screw steambarge by the Milwaukee Shipyard Company in 1898. Anthony Greilick of Traverse City, Michigan purchased the vessel in 1905. J.O. Nessen & Company of Manistee, Michigan acquired the ship in 1910 and rebuilt the ship again. In 1919 the vessel was sold to Finn and Olson Freighting of Marinette, Wisconsin. She was renamed M.C. AND M.C. No. 2
in 1920 and carried package freight as part of the Milwaukee, Chicago and Michigan City Line. The ship was returned to the name Sidney O. Neff
in 1923. Her last owner, Marinette Transportation Company acquired the boat in 1925 to operate in the pulpwood trade. Having outlived her usefulness, she was laid up in Menominee in 1933. As one of the last surviving wooden commercial ships on the Great Lakes, the vessel was surveyed by the WPA in 1937 (Plans are in Historical American Merchant Marine Survey Volume 5).
Shortly after the WPA survey, the ship sank at the dock, and ultimately was raised and scuttled outside the harbor in June 1940.
Today the remains of Sidney O Neff
lie flattened on a bottom of shifting sand in 15 feet of water just south of the Marinette Lighthouse. Large portions of the vessel’s upper deck structure have been washed away by wave and ice action since its scuttling; however, the entire lower hull of the vessel, including the partial remains of the vessel’s steam engine and its propeller, remain on the site. Additional pieces of deck machinery remain on site as well, including sections of Sidney O. Neff
’s unique coal bunker, originally housed on its deck. Two anchors and a windlass, not belonging to Sidney O. Neff
, have been brought to the site over the years as well. During the survey, a previously unknown debris field was located off the vessel’s portside stern quarter. This debris field includes portions of hull planking, iron strapping, and the vessel’s rudder. The wreck site is often frequented by new divers and customers of the local dive shop in Menominee.