Grice House Museum


Anchor from Iron Chief    

 

On the south lawn, the anchor from the Iron Chief is displayed.  It was taken from about ten miles out in Lake Huron, east of Grindstone City, in about 150 feet of water.

The Iron Chief was built by the Detroit Dry Dock Company, in Wyandotte, MI, as a wooden schooner and her first enrollment was issued on July 19, 1881, with Official Number 100287.  Her dimensions were 212.33 ft. long, 35 ft. wide, and 17.5 ft. high.  By April 22, 1882, she was one of the few schooners converted from sail to steam.  During the conversion, her gross tonnage increased slightly to 1154.08.  Her picture shows a single stack vessel with fore and aft masts. A small forward pilothouse and aft-cabins complete the common wooden steamer silhouette.

The Iron Chief blew her propeller stuffing, filled and sank in heavy seas.  The crew was rescued by the steamer ANDREW CARNEGIE, bound for Fort William with coal. Consort IRON CLIFF made it to Alpena under sail. The Iron Chief ended her career on October 4, 1904 when she sank when the ship became waterlogged and foundered in heavy weather six miles from Pointe aux Barques, Michigan in Lake Huron

The wreck of the Iron Chief is located 9.55 miles from the Grindstone City harbor on an 82-degree true bearing.

An October 23, 1984 article from The Saginaw News tells the story of an anchor recovery from the Iron Chief by six Saginaw area divers.  Jim Moore, lead diver for the expedition, recently was kind enough to take the time to talk about the recovery, the permit process, and presenting the anchor to the Grice Museum of Harbor Beach.  The divers used 250 gallon tanks pumped full of air to lift the 3,000 pound anchor to the surface.  But, first they had to hacksaw thru the heavy anchor chain at a depth of 135 feet.  Jim said he doesn’t remember much about the shipwreck because he concentrated their efforts in the bow area during the anchor recovery.  He said there was another anchor on the wreck and they took the anchor that was less visible to divers.

In the Marine Room of the Grice House, documents the recovery of this treasure.  The Iron Chief is still being enjoyed by divers in the Thumb Area Bottomland Preserve.

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Grice House Heritage Association
865 N Huron Ave
Harbor Beach, MI  48441

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