The sunken cargo ship “Eber Ward” is one of the Straits of Mackinac Shipwreck Preserve’s shipwrecks. The Straits of Mackinac Shipwreck Preserve is a 148 square mile area that stretches from Wilderness State Park to the Cheboygan area including much of the South Channel and stretches to the northern edge of Mackinac Island. The Mackinac Bridge splits the Preserve into two.
The preserve includes 12 named shipwrecks, with additional sites near shore in the shallows, and some nearby in deeper waters, with one such shipwreck being the Eber Ward, sitting in 142 feet of water. Eber Ward was a package freighter that served ports on the Upper Great Lakes from its launch in 1888 until, on April 20, 1909, she sank in the Straits of Mackinac.
Its tonnage was 1.344 tonnes of gross register and 1.038 tonnes of net register. It was 213 feet (65 m) long, and it had a 22 feet (6.7 m) draft, a large ship for its time.
On the morning of April 20, 1909, after 21 years of service and a few changes of ownership, Eber Ward sank on the morning of April 20, 1909, west of Mackinaw City, Michigan, in the Straits of Mackinac. The bow was punctured with ice and charges were levied against Captain Timese Lemay, who later admitted, that he felt the ice was “slush” and sailed the Eber Ward way too hard for the conditions at the time. Five lives were lost from the crew of fifteen.
When the United States Steamboat Inspection Service launched an investigation into the sinking, Lemay had his masters licence suspended, they found Lemay “guilty of fraud, incompetence and inattention to duty.”
In 1980 the wreck had been rediscovered by divers. The wreck of the vessel, which is part of the Mackinac Shipwreck Preserve Straits, commemorates the five people killed in the sinking.
This is an “advanced dive” at 142 feet with heavy currents and a mooring line is recommended along with plenty of air!