Flying Mist (not confirmed)

Flying Mist 2


Wreck Off Shore South Of Lower Herring Lake

44.32.925   086.13.583

A telltale straight line in about 10 feet of water between the sand bars south of Lower Herring Lake visible on Bing Maps in 2015 indicates the presence of a sunken schooner. The straight line represents a keelson, a massive centerline structure running the length of a ship and fastening the transverse members of the floor to the keel below.

Flying Mist 1Local word of mouth suggests that this wreck is the Marinette lost in 1886 in this general vicinity, but documentation of the wreck in September 2015 by MSRA indicates the keelson is about 110 feet long. This dimension does not precisely match any of the ships lost in the area of Arcadia, the location of this wreck is just off the site of what used to be Burham’s Pier, north of Arcadia, and matches reports of where the Flying Mist grounded.


The Flying Mist was a 3-masted schooner, 137 feet long by 26 feet wide, built by Ira LaFrinier and launched in August, 1861 in Cleveland, Ohio for the Winslow Line of Cleveland. No historic photographs of this ship have been found. Its history as recorded by the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary includes the following milestones:

She arrived in Detroit on her maiden voyage on September 3, 1861. Shee ran agrouns twice in 1863, but was successfully pulled off and refloated each time.  By 1871, she was owned by Thomas Hood, Chicago. 


A special telegram to the Inter Ocean from Manistee, Michigan, on November 16, 1883 describes the loss:  “The Flying Mist left St. Ignace for Chicago carrying 570 tons of iron ore on November 15, 1883. The ship became disabled during a blizzard, drifted eight miles south, and sank near Burnham’s Pier just north of Arcadia. The captain of the lifesaving crew at Point Betsey telegraphed the life-saving crew here last night that a disabled schooner drifted by there last evening flying a signal of distress. The tug Williams was notified, and with part of the life-saving crew started this morning to find the wreck, which proved to be the Flying Mist, loaded with iron ore. She lies sunk of Burnham’s Pier, twenty-two miles north of here, in about 15 fathoms of water. Her foremast, topmast, and jibboom are gone. The crew all went ashore in their yawl boat.”

A later news story indicated that the ship drifted into shallows and sank, a total loss. Two sailors who remained aboard were rescued from shore. The Flying Mist had gone to pieces by the 20th. Her anchors and chain were removed in June, 1885.


MSRA surveyed the wreck in 2015. At about 110 feet long, the remains are 17 feet shy of the dimensions of the Flying Mist, however this does not rule it out as the bow and stern structure were not completely visible above the sand. The satellite image indicates an additional small section north of the keelson, which may be a broken section of the wreck. The centerboard truck is slightly off center in the visible remains suggesting that a section of the keelson is indeed not visible to the north.  Because the centerboard truck is nearly in the middle of this wreck, it position suggests that the visible wreckage represents the majority of one complete vessel, not half of a much larger vessel such as the Marinette, Menekaunee, or Minnehaha. While there were a number of schooners lost in the Arcadia area, the known ones ranged in length from 80 to 100 feet or larger than 170 feet. Only the Flying Mist was near the size of this wreck. Of course there remains the possibility that this is a ship that was not recorded as being lost in this area.

A distinct pivot pin located about mid ships would have been the point at which the centerboard pivoted within the centerboard trunk. This is an interesting artifact, considering such devises are typically not extant on shipwrecks. A wad of fishing next has become entangled on the wreck and floats up nearly to the surface. Snorkelers and divers should be careful not to become entangled in it. Photographs and a photomosaic by Valerie van Heest indicate its condition in 2015.
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