George Whelan, Lake Erie

Pictures by Warren Lo 2007

Ship Type: Steel Freighter, Sandsucker
Lifespan: Built 1910, Sunk 1930
Length: 220ft
Depths: 150ft
Location: Lake Erie, Dunkirk, NY

The George Whelan is a steel freighter that was built in 1910 at Toledo, Ohio originally as the Erwin L. Fisher. She collided with the S.L. Clement in the Detroit River and sank in 1911. In 1916, she was rebuilt and renamed the Bayersher. During World War I, she was sold to France, but was subsequently returned to the US and operated along the East coast. In 1929, she was renamed as the George Whelan and used to mine sand from the lake bottom. After serving only for about a year as a sandsucker, she was lost in heavy storms on July 29, 1930 in Lake Erie, just off Dunkirk, NY. While hauling a load of limestone, she was caught in violent squalls which caused it's load to shift. There were 15 lives lost, and are likely entombed in the wreck. They were likely attempting to re-distribute the ship's load when winds rolled the ship onto it's side and sank. 

The wreck lies in 150 ft of water, which makes this dive a technical dive. The wreck lies on her port side, almost turned right over. The wreck is still very much intact, as she has not been stripped of anything since her discovery in 2005 by Gary Kozak and Jim Herbert. Lanterns, port holes, life rings, ladders, anchor, life boat, railings, doors and other parts of the ship are present and intact. One of the most notable features is the intact rudder and giant propellor. Towards the front of the ship, the wheelhouse and bow are submerged in the silt and cannot be seen. There is much to be seen on the wreck, so multiple dives would be required to explore all this wreck has to offer.

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All Photos copyright Warren Lo, 2007



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