Francisco Morazan

Part of a metal ship above water surrounded by ice chunks.

Creative Commons, K. Read

On the night of November 28, 1960, Lake Michigan would claim one of her most recent victims. The steamship Francisco Morazan ended a 38-year career when she ran aground on South Manitou Island. She had sailed for eleven owners, under six flags, with eight names.

The Morazan left Chicago on November 27 with 1,118 tons of goods for The Netherlands and Germany. The cargo included canned chicken, empty shampoo bottles, toys, and many other items. She was racing to get out to the Atlantic before the St. Lawrence Seaway closed on December 3.

The Morazan was Captain Eduardo Trivizas’ first command. Onboard were 12 crew, and the captain’s pregnant wife, Anastasia. Fog slowed the ship and a bad feeder pump for the boiler forced the crew to stop and drift in Lake Michigan for eight hours to replace it. The Morazan passed Point Betsie in a blinding snowstorm at about 7:15 pm on the 28th. She was pushed off course and ran aground just 300 yards from the beach on South Manitou Island.

Three Coast Guard vessels and a civilian tug responded to the Morazan’s mayday. On December 4, the crew was removed from the ship after it was determined that she couldn’t be salvaged. Attempts were made to salvage the cargo but were ultimately abandoned.

In the years afterward, the wreck became a popular hangout for island residents. They helped themselves to the cargo of canned chicken and toys. The wreck is now protected as a part of the Manitou Passage State Underwater Preserve.

Hikers looking at Morazan shipwreck on SMI
Hikers view the wreck of the Francisco Morazan

Kerry Kelly 2005

Take the 2.5 mile round trip hike from the Village on South Manitou Island to view the shipwreck. The Traverse City Visitor Bureau has more information on shipwrecks in the area.

A large steel ship resembling a military vessel.
Historic image of the Morazan under the name Ringas


a brown glass bottle with text "Suave for men the luxury hairdressing"

NPS Photo/Matt Johnson

Items from the cargo of the ship have been found across South Manitou Island.
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Last updated: June 26, 2024

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