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Steamer AGNES WSteamer AGNES W
by Mike Spears
Historical Sketch

The wooden steamer AGNES W was built in 1887 at the Wolf & Davidson shipyard in Milwaukee, WI.   She was launched as the ROSWELL P. FLOWER and was owned by the Milwaukee Steamship Company. For a brief period, she was the largest wooden vessel on the Great Lakes. Her dimensions were:  length, 264 feet; beam, 38.1 feet; hull depth, 17.7 feet; and gross tonnage, 1593 tons. 

The ROSWELL P. FLOWER seems to have had a relatively quiet career serving as a bulk freighter, hauling various types of bulk cargo, such as coal, iron ore, or grain and towing various schooner barges. Her only major incident was running aground
 

 The wooden steamer AGNES W was built in 1887 at the Wolf & Davidson shipyard in Milwaukee, WI.   She was launched as the ROSWELL P. FLOWER and was owned by the Milwaukee Steamship Company. For a brief period, she was the largest wooden vessel on the Great Lakes. Her dimensions were:  length, 264 feet; beam, 38.1 feet; hull depth, 17.7 feet; and gross tonnage, 1593 tons.
near Waugoshance Point (at the southwest entrance to Straits of Mackinac). When her pumps were unable to keep the vessel afloat, she was intentionally run ashore to avoid sinking.
 The wreck lies in less than 15’ of water and very near Traverse Point. The site should be visited only on calm days and boaters should use caution when approaching due to the shallowness of the water and the presence of many large rocks. While only the lower hull section remains, the wreckage is quite massive, measuring approximately 180 feet x 35 feet. Around the wreckage lie a variety of other small artifacts. Divers and snorklers will find this an interesting wreck to visit. Since most of the wreckage is visible from the surface, kayakers will also enjoy this wreck.
Photo by D. Sandell
In 1915, the Flower was acquired by Captain John D. Wanvig of Milwaukee and renamed the AGNES W. in honor of his daughter. The vessel was sold to a Mr. D. W. Stocking of Duluth, MN in May of 1918.   On July 3, 1918, the AGNES W. ran aground for the final time at Traverse Point (formerly Canada Point) on the south side of Drummond Island.   
     
Final Voyage
 
Unfortunately, little is known about the AGNES W’s final voyage and final wrecking incident. What is known is that the vessel was carrying a cargo of grain from Fort William, Ontario, ran aground
in a severe summer storm, was pounded to pieces by the waves, and no lives were lost. Typically the stranding of a large vessel would warrant a major news article containing much of the detail surrounding the event. However, in the summer of 1918, the United States was heavily engaged in World War I and newspaper space priorities were different. The stranding of the AGNES W did not even make the Detroit newspapers and only warranted a brief one-liner in the Sault Ste. Marie News.
 
Wreck Description
 
The wreck lies in less than 15’ of water and very near Traverse Point. The site should be visited only on calm days and boaters should use caution when approaching due to the shallowness of the water and the presence of many large rocks. While only the lower hull section remains, the wreckage is quite massive, measuring approximately 180 feet x 35 feet. Around the wreckage lie a variety of other small artifacts. Divers and snorklers will find this an interesting wreck to visit. Since most of the wreckage is visible from the surface, kayakers will also enjoy this wreck.    
 
Wreck Location
 
The wreck is located near Traverse Point on the south side of Drummond Island, about 8 miles east of DeTour Passage in less than 15 feet of water. Lat/Long Coordinates are: 
 
45º 55.741’ North
83º 42.859’ West
 
Vessel Data
 
Name:
AGNES W
Rig:
Steamer
Home Port:
Duluth, MN
Official Number:
100724
Length:
264 Feet
Gross Tons:
1593
Hull Material:
Wood
Year Built:
1887
Builder:
Wolf & Davidson
Place Built:
Milwaukee, WI
Date of Loss:
July 3, 1918
Cause of Loss:
Ran Aground
Lives Lost:
None
Cargo:
Grain
Bound From/To:
Ft. William, Ontario to ?
Depth
5 -15 Feet

©Copyright 2009 Mike Spears and the Drummond Island Tourism Association
Drummond Island Tourism Association
P.O.Box 200 Drummond Island, MI 49726
906-493-5245 or 800-737-8666
Email: drummondislandtourism@alphacomm.net


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