S.S. Norman (Lake Huron — 210 ffw)

Background

The Norman was a large 300 foot long, 40 foot wide bulk freighter that was another victim of a collision in heavy fog — like so many other wrecks in the area. The Norman was built in 1890 by Globe Iron Works in Cleveland, Ohio and was one of the first propeller-driven steel tankers and generally carried iron and coal.

By Alpena County George N. Fletcher Public Library

At 1:30pm on May 30, 1895, the Norman was headed north on Lake Huron with a load of coal when it collided with the steamer Jack of Kingston which was loaded with timber. It was such a violent collision that it nearly cut the Norman in half and it sank in less than three minutes and resulted in three people losing their lives. The wreck was discovered in 1986 in 210 feet of water.

The Thunder Bay Wrecks website has a good graphic that shows the layout of the wreck and the damage done:

Graphic fromThunder Bay Wrecks website

The Wreck

The Norman is a pretty daunting wreck to complete in one dive given the length (300 feet) and the depth (210 feet). We did our best and did an initial survey of the entire wreck. The mooring buoy is at the stern and we dropped down the line and quickly passed the cargo holds on a long swim to the bow. The bow is enormous and has a very large anchor perched against it (see photos below). We took some photos with Mel and Jack to give some perspective on the size.

We then made our way down to the broken down wheelhouse where I took some photos but didn’t hear Mel trying to get me to stop and look at the “double wheel” that somehow didn’t get crushed when the wheelhouse collapsed. She had mentioned it in the pre-dive briefing but I was laser focussed on the cool lifeboat off to the port side just to the stern of the wheelhouse.

After investigating the rowboat (which still has the oars in it — almost like it was staged), Jack headed up to the line while Mel and I took a tour of the engine room which is right near the break in the wreck. Getting into the engine room is a little tight but not too bad but you are rewarded with an amazing set of gauges and the telegraph on the wall.

We then got back out of the engine room and started our long ascent and decompression.

Photos

As mentioned above, some of the highlights of this wreck include the bow & anchor, the double wheel, the rowboat, and the engine room. I’ve included some photos below of each:

Jack and Mel at the enormous bow of the Norman
Jack at the anchor
Double wheel at the center of collapsed deck house (see if you can spot it)
Closeup of the double wheel
Rowboat with oars off to the port side
Mel headed towards the stern and the engine room
Mel about to enter the engine room. Note the large round boiler to the left of the opening.
Entering the engine room. Note that everything is rotated 90 degrees (Mel is going horizontal but this would actually be going “down” into the engine room). One of the boilers is to the left.
Gauges inside the engine room
Telegraph in the engine room
Closeup of the telegraph

References

Thunder Bay Wrecks

Wikipedia

NOAA

4 thoughts on “S.S. Norman (Lake Huron — 210 ffw)

    1. Thanks, Mark.

      Next up is the wooden schooner Cornelia B Windiate which sank in 1875 and also has a lifeboat resting on the side and is probably the most popular of the deep wrecks at Presque Isle.

      Like

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