Discover the Wonders of Chicagoland and Northpoint Shipwrecks
Since 1818, beginning with the wreckage of the schooner Hercules, more than 1,000 ships have been lost on Lake Michigan due to storms and collisions. These wrecks range from steel freighters to WWII aircraft. Certified divers looking to explore these stunning ruins can turn to Windy City Diving for help. We can take you on the diving adventure of a lifetime!
Chicago Area Wrecks
M/V Buccaneer is Chicago’s newest dive site. Built as an icebreaker in 1925, this 99’ vessel was intentionally sunk by WCD in 2010. It is currently sitting upright in 70’ of water, 10 miles out of Burnham Harbor. When you dive off of WCD’s R/V Aquatica, you are diving off the boat that sunk the Bucc.
Illinois and Holly
At the time of her sinking in 1907, the Illinois was the largest hydraulic dredge on the Lake. Dredges like the Illinois were used to suck up sand from the lake bottom to build Chicago’s lakefront. Today, it rests in 35’ of water near another dive site, the Holly Barge, Chicago’s first intentional artificial shipwreck.
Material Service Barge
This 239’ self-loading sand and gravel barge was built in 1929. Its unique design allowed it to navigate under the many bridges of Chicago. During a storm in 1936, the ship sank and brought 15 of its 22 crew members along with it. Today, it sits upright in 35 feet of water.
As a 147’ side-wheel paddle steamer built in 1889, Rotarian spent many years as a passenger excursion vessel. During the 20s, it was used as a dance hall and as the home of the Cook County Democrats. It is alleged to have been a “speakeasy” frequented by Al Capone. After sinking at the dock, the vessel was towed out into the Lake and sunk in 1931.
This 120’ wooden schooner sits in 105 feet of water off Highland Park. Although this wreck has collapsed on itself, all the pieces are there. You will see two large anchors, the windlass, the ship’s wheel, dead eyes, and more. This is a more advanced or higher-level dive site.
Sunk in December of 1985, this 100’ 60-ton commercial fishing boat sits upright at the bottom of 145 feet of water. In the wreckage, three out of six lives were lost. Many believe that the vessel flooded while the crew members were recovering their fishing nets during a storm. This is a technical dive.
Straits of Mackinac
Intentionally sunk in 2003, this 199’ car and passenger ferry offers something for every diver. Since the ship is fully intact, this dive site is a great swim around for beginner divers and completely penetrable for advanced divers. Sitting upright in 82 feet of water, with her main deck just 60’ down, the Straits is Chicago’s premiere shipwreck.
Sunk in 1929, this 72’ steam-powered wooden tug sits upright at the bottom of 35’ of water. The pilothouse is gone, but much of the remaining wreck is still there, especially the large boiler. The large propeller offers great photo ops, and the wreck attracts many species of fish.
Wrecked in 1891, this three-masted 132’ by 26’ bean schooner sits upright in 147’ of water. The masts are laid over but the bowsprit is near perfect and offers great photo ops. This one is by far the best dive in the area under 150’. However, keep in mind that this is an advanced dive. Technical certification is recommended before you opt for this site.
Sitting in only 40’ of water, this three-masted schooner was built in 1873. Since it sank in 1883, many have regarded it to be one of the best shipwrecks in Illinois waters. Prior to the sinking of the Mac, this was the #1 Chicago wreck.
Wings of Wind
Built in 1855, this 130’ wooden schooner sank because of a collision. Resting in only 40’ of water you can dive into its intact bow section, as well as its bowsprit and windlass. The rear portion of the vessel was destroyed during salvaging attempts.
However, it is a great wreck to dive in before you watch the Wednesday night fireworks.
Sunk on “Black Friday” October 29, 1929, this 209’ steel freighter offers something for every advanced diver. It currently sits upright in 130’ of water with her main deck just over 100’ down. The Wisconsin is considered by many to be one of the best wrecks in Southern Lake Michigan. This is an advanced level dive and only a 22-minute ride from the harbor.
Once considered the most palatial yacht on the Lake, this 95’ steel motor yacht sits upright in 195’ of water. All seven people, who were passengers during its last days, escaped while it was sinking and were rescued by the USCG. For technical divers looking to explore a classic shipwreck in the Lake, the M/Y Rosinco is the ideal site.