The Typo was named by the owners in recognition of the their successful printing and writing careers. The triple-masted 137-foot “canaler” was built in 1872-1873 by the Wolf and Davidson Shipbuilding company in Milwaukee and launched in March of 1873. Canaler ships were designed to fit the width and length of the locks on the Great Lakes.
Below is a picture of a ship going through the Welland Ship Canal in Canada between Lake Ontario and Lake Eerie:
The Typo was apparently quite the error-prone ship prior to finally sinking. in October 1899. In her career, she ran ashore, caught fire, broke jib-boom, was abandoned, recovered, and repaired yet again. She underwent major repairs in 1882 and then again in 1884 after a serious grounding on Amherst Island in late 1883.
The Typo would typically carry grain eastward from Milwaukee and Chicago to ports in Lake Ontario and the return westward loaded with coal. The Typo would regularly go through the Welland Canal shown in the picture above and the Typo was specifically constructed to fit the canal’s dimensions
In October 1899, the Typo was loaded with coal and headed for Racine, Wisconsin. It was struck by the steamship W.P. Ketchum on the port side the the third mast rigging about 30 feet forward of the stern. A huge hole was ripped in the Type and the water instantly flooded the hold. Combined with the 700 hundred tons of coal and the rapidly flooded hold, the ship quickly sank. One sailor was able to grab a line on the W.P. Ketchum to scramble to safety. The six other sailors launched the lifeboat but before they could get away from the Typo, the boom slammed into the lifeboat causing it to capsize and only two of the six survived.
The Typo rests in 190 feet of water and sits upright and is completely intact. Highlights include the massive bow which is completely intact with the anchors, rigging, bowsprit and part of the jib-boom still attached. The bow foremast sticks straight up and rises to about 100 feet of water where there is a crows nest. The other highlight of the wreck is the ship’s iron bell at the bow.
Due to the impact at the stern, the coal spilled out all of the lake bottom and there are apparently still human remains there. There are still also vast amounts of coal in the ship.