Picture

Dean Richmond

Shipwreck: #US6102
Wreck Location:
42.30716, -79.93097. Six miles offshore opposite Northeast, Pa.

dean

Ship Name:
Dean Richmond

Type of Ship:
Steamer propeller

Ship Owner:
R.k & H.J. Winslow

Net Tonnage:
1500

Year Built:
1864

Cause of Loss:
Storm, Foundered


Ship Size:
239 x 35 x 14

Gross Tonnage:
1083

Typical Cargo:
Zinc Ingots, flour, meal, oil cake, pig lead, spelter and package freight

Date of Loss:
Sunday, October 15, 1893

Loss of Life:
17 of 18 crew plus 3 volunteers who died the 16th while searching for bodies

PHMC PASS Number:
36ER0332 (http://www.phmc.pa.gov/Preservation/)

The Shipwreck Today:

Foundered in large storm which claimed 15 other vessels; 17 of 18 lives lost; bound Toledo to Buffalo.
1898 Hull located; cargo recovered.
1984 Wreck discovered.

Dean Richmond: Propeller freighter of 238 ft sank 10/14/1893 in a terrific storm off Dunkirk, New York with its entire crew of 23. The Dean Richmond was last seen afloat badly damaged, without power and in the trough of the waves by another damaged steamer as it made for shore. For a century the Richmond was one of the most sought after lost ships of the lake. The vessel carried a valuable cargo of zinc ingots and assorted merchandise. The wreck was recently discovered by Garry Kozak after a nearly ten year search, inverted 5 miles off the Pennsylvania/New York border in 95 feet of water. The Niagara Diver’s Association originally gave a GPS location of 42deg 17.95′, 79deg 59.99′. Their web site currently lists a position of 42deg 17.421′, 79deg 55.859′.
(Ref. Alchem 158).

The 238 foot (1083 gross ton) Dean Richmond was one of five ships with the same name. The Wooden Steamship, launched in 1864, was destined to become one of Lake Erie’s most intriguing shipwrecks. Her story ended and began on the evening of October 14, 1893 when she disappeared with all hands during an intense Lake Erie storm. Dean Richmond was traveling from Toledo to Buffalo when she ran into one of the most ferocious storms in Great Lakes history. Westerly winds built all evening and were recorded at over sixty miles per hour in Buffalo. Spray hit the harbor wall and rose to over 100 feet collapsing the freight depot of Western NY and PA Railroad. The collapse killed three young boys seeking shelter from the storm. Not much was known of the wreck’s location for many years. One crew member was found unconscious on a  beach, but he died of exposure before saying anything. There were no other survivors to tell the story of the wreck. Captain George Stoddard’s body washed ashore giving the only clue. His watch had stopped at 12:20. Earlier that evening other steamships, themselves in desperate circumstances, reported seeing Richmond east of Erie, heading toward the channel and shelter. One report told of one of Richmond’s smoke stacks having been torn off. Another noted the Dean Richmond  was foundering but that no crew members were
seen.

Reports of the Dean Richmonds cargo (including rumor that there was gold aboard) propelled a number of treasure-hunting divers to the task of finding her. ….. In 1972 Gary Kozak a salvage diver began concentrating on a search for the Dean Richmond using newly available underwater detection equipment. On July 15, 1983 he announced that he had located what he believed was the wreck of the Richmond in 100 feet of water off North East thus ending his eleven year quest. This location was substantially further west than divers of the 1960’s and 1970’s had believed, but it corresponded with the speculations of most historians. Dean Richmond  remains one of Erie’s favorite dive sights. It’s depth puts it beyond the skill level of novices, but recent increases in water clarity have allowed divers of all of all levels to swim down far enough to see the wreck site where her upside down hull protrudes some 30 feet above the lake. ( Home Port Erie ,  Robert J. McDonald and David Frew, pp.250-251.)

My favorite Erie wreck this season was the Dean Richmond. Built in 1864, four years after Washington Irving had sunk, she was a 236 ft (72 m) long two-screw wooden package and passenger steamer. Loaded with zinc ingots, barrels of flour, and other general goods, she sank in a gale in 1893 taking all her crew with her. Rumors that she was carrying copper or gold that had circulated for years after she was lost were put to rest when she was located in 1984, and no valuables found. One of her propellers was salvaged at that time.

My favorite Erie wreck this season was the Dean Richmond. Built in 1864, four years after Washington Irving had sunk, she was a 236 ft (72 m) long two-screw wooden package and passenger steamer. Loaded with zinc ingots, barrels of flour, and other general goods, she sank in a gale in 1893 taking all her crew with her. Rumors that she was carrying copper or gold that had circulated for years after she was lost were put to rest when she was located in 1984, and no valuables found. One of her propellers was salvaged at that time.

She landed on the bottom completely upside down, which normally means a pretty boring dive as one travels from rudder and prop to the bow. Not in this case. While the rudder with the remaining prop and the bow are definitely worth visiting, there is also a huge debris field surrounding this wreck that contains some zinc ingots and large pieces of the ship. The sides have a few openings inviting one to go and play inside. I have to come back to do exactly that.

 

(Ref. ADVANCED DIVER MAGAZINE, “The Curse of Lake Erie”, Text and Photography, Vlada Dekina)

 
 
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