Grand Traverse Bay Underwater Preserve
Grand Traverse Bay is strategically located for maritime transportation. Its water resources made it a wise and natural choice for early lumbering and manufacturing industries that built up along the shoreline. The shelter of the Bay encouraged the subsequent growth of maritime commerce. These activities left remains of both sunken ships and commercial activity.
Today the Bay holds the remains of several lost ships as well as near shore sites with evidence of businesses that once flourished along the waterfront. The local Preserve support organization has an ambitious program underway to locate and identify shipwrecks in the Bay.
None of the dive sites are officially moored. Area divers sometimes informally mark some of the dive sites. However, divers should be prepared to locate any particular one when planning a dive.
The Grand Traverse Bay region contains numerous shore diving sites in addition to shipwrecks. Among them are the “Clinch Park Woodpile” containing the remains of lumbering activities and “The Pipeline” consisting of the remains of piping from the power plant.
There is also an area known as “The Junk Pile”. Located near Haserot Beach at the tip of Old Mission Peninsula, this interesting site was created by teenagers in the 1950’s who tried to create their own artificial island. The remains of several small boats, a refrigerator, and even a Ford Pinto can be found in just 20 feet of water and are easily accessed from shore. There is also a large amount of old pier timbers at the site creating fish habitat.
Grand Traverse Bay is a very popular tourist destination with many festivities. Traverse City hosts its annual Cherry Festival in July and communities all around the Bay sponsor many activities and special events throughout the year. It is also a very scenic area to tour.
For more information on the Preserve and things to do and see in the area, consult the websites for the Grand Traverse Bay Underwater Preserve, Traverse City Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, or the Traverse City Chamber of Commerce, as well as those of similar organizations in the communities bordering Grand Traverse Bay.
Shipwrecks & Dive Sites
|Wreck Name & Year Lost||Depth||GPS/LAT/LON|
|Albatross (1916)||10′||N 45° 53.902 W 085° 24.459|
|A.J. Rogers (1898)||45′ to 53′||N 45° 03.165 W 085° 28.816|
|Eagle – abandoned fish tug||6′||N 45° 07.540 W 085° 36.390|
|Flora (1947)||8′||N 45° 07.640 W 085° 36.706|
|West Bay Barge||80′||N 44° 47.062 W 085° 37.826|
|Elmwood wreck (1957) aka Charles Frank||20′ to 40′||N 44° 47.249 W 085° 38.103|
|Metropolis (shallow) (1886)||starts 6′||N 44° 58.227 W 085° 27.945|
|Metropolis (deep) (1886)||to 120′||N 44° 58.339 W 085° 27.832|
|Nyord (1970) small sloop||54′||N 44° 46.400 W 085° 36.004|
|Mission Bay “Junk Pile”||various||N 44° 57.504 W 085° 29.017|
|Shale Scow (1903) Elk Rapids||12′||N 44° 53.582 W 085° 25.678|
|Tramp (1970)||44′||N 44° 51.025 W 085° 36.072|
|Yuba Wreck (~1894)||15′||N 44° 49.616 W 085° 27.968|
Among the best shipwreck dives in the Grand Traverse Bay Underwater Preserve are:
The 125′ schooner Metropolis became lost in a snow storm in November 1886 and ran aground southeast of Old Mission Point. Her cargo of pig iron and lumber was salvaged but the ship was abandoned to the weather. The remains of the Metropolis are divided into a shallow debris field just offshore in only about 8 feet of water and a deeper portion of the hull in 120 feet of water.
A. J. Rogers
The schooner A. J. Rogers was built in 1862. She sailed from Elk Rapids for Sandusky with a cargo of 585 tons of pig iron, on October 8, 1898. Leaking badly, she turned back near Cat Head Point the following day. Realizing that he could not make port, Capt. Frank Conlin attempted to beach the vessel on Old Mission Point, but sank before reaching land. Much of the cargo was salvaged by the firm of Dexter & Noble, of Elk Rapids. Today the remains of the 138 foot schooner rest in 53 feet of water.
This shallow wreck shore dive site is in approximately 15 feet of water. It is the remains of a schooner sunk in 1894. Not much is known about this wreck. She is also known as the Ada, the Brick, or possibly the Morning Star.
Elmwood Wreck – possibly the Charles Frank
Divers will find this partially intact wood fish tug in 20 to 40 feet of water. She reportedly became tangled in a net from a fisheries research vessel owned by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and was dragged from 80 feet of water to her present location. This is a site for many open water training dives due to its proximity to shore and the ease of entry.
This site in 54 feet of water features the intact remains of a sloop sunk in the 1970’s. She sank in southern West Bay due to neglect. The wreckage often holds large schools of game fish. This wreck is also known as the “Double-ender”.
Mission Bay “Junk Pile”
The drop off in this area has the remains of several small craft – both wooden and metal. You may also find a motorcycle and a refrigerator. This is a very popular shore diving site. There is a lot of boat traffic in the area so be sure to tow a dive flag and be aware of your surroundings.
The Tramp is a 55′ tug built in1926 that sank in the 1970’s. Her wreck is semi-intact and is a popular dive site in about 44 feet of water near Power Island. She is sometimes buoyed.
The Shale Scow
Sunk in 1903 while tied up at the Elk Rapids Cement Company dock, the remains of this 100′ scow can be found just south of the Elk Rapids harbor in 12 feet of water. This is an ideal site for snorkelers.