W.L. Brown (1880)
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By The Numbers
Lives Lost
Depth (ft)
Service History

"The W.L.Brown was built originally in 1856 for the Western Transportation Company as a passenger steamer and christened Neptune. In 1874 she burned at East Saginaw and her partly burned hull was taken to Green Bay. There she was rebuilt in 1880 at Andrew A. Johnson's shipyard for the National Furnace Company of Green Bay. She was owned by the National Iron Company at the time of her loss." In 1880 she was rebuilt as a freighter and hauled a variety of cargo over the years. This rebuild was so extensive that many thought this to be an actual construction; her name was changed from Neptune to W.L. Brown. "The winter before she foundered she was equipped with a new boiler."
Final Voyage

On October 21, 1886 the W.L. Brown sprang a leak while in a storm and foundered close to Green Island off Pestigo, WI. The vessel had a load of pig iron she was hauling from Escanaba to DePere. Both steam and hand pumps could not keep up with the in rushing water, so the Captain and the crew launched the lifeboat. They just got away when the Brown sank with a loud explosion as the superstructure was blown off. The tug John Leathem managed to pick up the survivors and deliver them to safety in Menominee. The engine, boiler, machinery and anchors along with chain were eventually recovered. The engine and boiler were later installed in the boat Fannie C. Hart that was built in Manitowoc.

"The W.L. Brown lies intact and upright in 80 feet of water; the hull is imbedded in the bottom. As noted, boilers, engines, and machinery were salvaged, but the two masts remain intact and upright. The cabin is missing. There is an open hold on the forward deck; a bilge pump is located on the starboard side. Wooden rails and artifacts are noted at the site."
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