FOUND! The Wreck of the Pere Marquette 18

The Pere Marquette 18, a Pere Marquette Railroad car ferry in service hauling railroad cars between Ludington, Michigan and ports in Wisconsin, sank off the coast of Sheboygan 110 years ago, September 9, 1910. The sinking of the PM18 has been a mystery ever since. Witnesses said she suddenly went vertical, the stern went under with the bow in the air and just that fast, she was gone. At least 28 souls perished in the sinking, including two crew members of the Pere Marquette 17 that came to the aid of the PM 18. As a result of this sinking, car ferries were equipped with a sea wall to prevent lake water from capsizing the ferries at sea.

The location of the wreck was unknown until the summer of 2020 when she was found by two shipwreck hunters from Minnesota, Jerry Eliason and Ken Merryman. A fascinating article from Minnesota Public Radio describes the wreck according to contemporary reports and describes how the PM18 was located.

Only one of the fleet of 20th Century Lake Michigan car ferries is still in operation, the SS Badger out of Ludington, although it no longer carries railroad cars.

The wreck of the Pere Marquette 18 will undoubtedly soon be added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Reference: Minnesota shipwreck hunters locate long-sought Lake Michigan wreck by Andrew Krueger, Minnesota Public Radio.

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