A Lake Erie treasure has been re-discovered off the cost of Lorain. After nearly 30 years of searching, the wreckage of the Margaret Olwill was discovered by the Cleveland Underwater Explorers (CLUE).
This 176’ x 35’ steam barge was carrying a load of 900 tons of limestone from Kelleys Island to Cleveland when it attempted to turn around in a strong northeast gale. Its steering chains broke, and the vessel capsized and sank. Killed were the captain, his wife, their 9-year old son, a friend of the family, and at least 4 crewmen out of the 12 or 13 people on board. Four people were rescued after holding onto wreckage for hours in the storm-tossed seas.
CLUE member Rob Ruetschle found this shipwreck on July 26, 2017, after 29 years of searching for it and covering 60 square miles of water. On Aug. 9, 2017, another dive with a visibility of about 2 feet was completed to find evidence to support the theory that it was in fact the wreck of the Olwill— the steam engine’s layout matched the historical data for the vessel’s machinery.
It is estimated that the Great Lakes are home to 8,000 shipwrecks, with approximately 2,000 located in Lake Erie. Today, we pay respect to the maritime history in a special way; by visiting many of the ships lost. Some are well-preserved museum pieces, some show evidence of the mighty lakes wrath, but all tell a story. We've been telling the stories for years, come and experience them for yourself.
If interested in taking a dive into history click here to learn more about Just Add Water’s Lake Erie trips.