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Dunderburg (Dundersburg)

The Dunderburg was a three masted schooner built by J.M. Jones of Detroit in 1867. She was lost in a collision with the steamer Empire State late in the evening of August 13, 1868. It is reported that a female passenger on board the steamer was thrown overboard during the collision and drowned, the only loss of life.

The Dunderburg now rests upright in about 150 feet of water, approximately four miles off Harbor Beach, Michigan, in Lake Huron. A river alligator figurehead has made this dive quite famous among Great Lakes wreck divers who save money in order to visit the location for themselves, and it is a favorite technical dive destination. The reason for the alligator figurehead has remained a mystery since the wreck was located by Kent Bellrichard in 1971. Legend has it that the alligator’s eye is still dabbed with red paint, but that may be gone after constant sediment cleaning by divers.

Two of the three masts still rise for a short distance above the deck. A schooner of this era, built to actually sail instead of designed with a cut down rig for towing behind a steamer, would have had a rig that towered to maybe 170 feet above the deck. The masts would have risen above the surface after the sinking. Today they rise to the point where they were snapped off by early salvors.

Story and photos ©2005 J.R. Underhill Communications

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