SS Algoma


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SS Algoma resting in the Soo Locks
SS ALGOMA navigating Soo Locks.

Patrie Collection


Algoma was one of the first steel-hulled vessels on the Great Lakes (Scanner, 1976:6 from The British Whig Oct. 18,1883). Like many of the early iron and steel vessels of the Lakes, it was built in British shipyards. Britain led the world in the development of iron and steel shipbuilding, and Great Lakes owners were frequent customers. Fleet orders from the Lakes were not uncommon, particularly from Canada, for vessels constructed on the Clyde. Kelvinhaugh was a leading producer of iron and steel vessels, and some Scottish companies (particularly in the 1920s) specialized in the manufacture of Lakers (Walker 1984:58; Carvel 1950:46).

The one problem faced by the foreign shipbuilders and Great Lakes owners was that the vessels had to pass through the canal system from the ocean to the Lakes. A vessel that was built small enough to pass was too small to benefit from the economies of scale enjoyed by larger vessels constructed on the Lakes. The solution was to design vessels to pass through the St. Lawrence Canals in pieces, to be reassembled once in the Lakes. This was accomplished in two ways: by either producing the vessels in sections and transporting to the Lakes on other ships (Carvel 1950:46), or designing the vessels to sail under their own power to the Lakes and then be severed in two and bulkheaded for the passage through the canals.


The Story of the SS Algoma

ship with large, celebratory crowd on top deck


Origin and Original Dimensions

steamship docked with person looking on from a distance

Operational History

Years of Service

a small portion of the SS Algoma is all that remains, sinking into Lake Superior after crashing

Wreck Event

Incident and Survivor Accounts


Shipwreck Site

The vessel was salvaged; the engines and boiler were refitted in the vessel Manitoba. Parts of the stern are all that remain. Wreckage is widely scattered with no major sections intact. Bow section not yet located. This remains the largest loss of life on Lake Superior. Buoy on a sinker in 50 feet.

Map of Algoma Site

site map of the Algoma shipwreck displaying debris fields

SS ALGOMA Wreckage Field
NPS / Larry Nordby


Quick Facts

SS Algoma Quick Facts
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Last updated: November 24, 2020

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800 East Lakeshore Drive
Houghton , MI 49931


906 482-0984

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