Shipwrecks and Maritime Tales of the Lake Erie Coastal Ohio Trail
Shipwrecks and Maritime Tales of the Lake Erie Coastal Ohio Trail

Explore Shipwrecks: Anthony Wayne

Ship Information

Ship Name: Anthony Wayne 
Also Known As: General Wayne, Wayne 
Type of Ship: Sidewheel Steamer  
Ship Size: 156' x 26' x 10' 
Ship Owner: Charles B. Howard and Co., and Captain E.C. Gore 
Gross Tonnage: 400 
Net Tonnage: NA 
Typical Cargo: Passengers and miscellaneous freight, livestock 
Year Built: 1837 - Perrysburg, Ohio, by Samuel Hubbell, rebuilt in 1849, Detroit, by D.W. Donahue, and received new boilers  
Official Wreck Number: None - not located 
Wreck Location: FOUND! May 20, 2007... please visit the Anthony B. Wayne news article for details. 
Type of Ship at Loss: Same 
Cargo on Ship at Loss: 80-100 passengers, 300 barrels of wine and whiskey, some cattle and horses 
Captain of Ship at Loss: E.C. Gore. Captain and half-owner of the vessel 
The Shipwreck Today:

Observations on May 20, 2007, by CLUE research diver Tom Kowalczk: The wreck is in two sections. The 26 foot diameter side wheels, the foot-wide engine shaft and other parts were identified.

For more information about the Anthony B. Wayne, including Cleveland T.V. 3 coverage of the discovery, visit the CLUE website at:


April 28, 1850, Vermilion, Ohio approximately 8 miles offshore. Two starboard boilers exploded in early AM hours resulting in complete destruction of the vessel. Explosion is a mystery, as boilers were virtually new. Had taken on 25+ passengers in Toledo on the morning of April 27, steamed to Sandusky, and picked up another 40+ passengers and 300 barrels of high quality wine and whiskey, and was enroute to Buffalo, NY. Captain was asleep and was blown out of his bed but was unhurt. Survived in a lifeboat with the ship's clerk, a fireman and two passengers, which drifted to shore in Vermilion. The captain secured a sailing schooner (Elmina) and returned to the site where some who remained afloat were rescued. Some passengers survived by standing atop the hurricane deck, which was blown into two pieces, allowing it to remain afloat. It was reported the steamer sank bow first in 15 minutes, taking six of the crew down with her in what was left of the steering cabin. One leaky lifeboat was able to be launched, with 12 passengers reaching shore after bailing continuously for six hours. Eleven of the crew died, in addition to an estimated 50-69 passengers (ship's manifest was unclear as to how many boarded at each location). The ship's clerk reported 80-100 passengers aboard (which included the crew) with no more than 30 surviving.

Many passengers were burnt badly by the scalding boiler water, while all passengers, wet from the sinking, suffered from the cold water temperatures. Survivors reported passengers were jumping from the ship with anything that may keep them afloat, such as cabin doors and wooden tables.

Although morbid, this is a fairly interesting account of death and survival.

Mr. Archer Brackney, from Lafayette, Louisiana, was a escorting the remains of his deceased wife and son; both corpses being in the same coffin, for burial in Philadelphia. In addition to the remains of his family inside the casket, Mr. Brackney was also accompanied by a daughter and another son; a sad trip for a family to be making. After the explosion, which roused the three passengers from berths, Mr. Brackney gathered his two children and jumped overboard. While attempting to keep afloat with his children, he searched the water for a floating object to help with their survival. Ironically, he came upon the coffin containing his wife and child, upon which he placed his two children. Exhausted from trying to stay afloat, the young boy was eventually washed off the coffin and drowned. Mr. Brachney and his daughter managed to survive the disaster, but only with the help of the coffin containing the remains of his wife and child.


Investigation by shipwreck researchers and salvagers during the late 1980s and early 1990s indicated the Anthony B. Wayne may have been carrying a safe containing approximately $100,000 in gold coins, which in today's market would be worth millions. It was also thought that the captain's strongbox may have contained another $1,600 in gold coinage. Part-time salvagers from Cleveland claimed to have located the shipwreck in 1988 in 66 feet of water, indicating the steamer to be partially buried in silt, requiring extensive salvage efforts to get through the mud and silt and into the hull. The salvagers, Matthew Roalofs and Kellog Vance, both of Cleveland, Ohio, believe their research indicates the gold exists. Others, including the Ohio Historical Society's deputy preservation officer Franco Ruffini, disagree. In 1989, a salvage permit was applied for by Roalofs and Vance to the State of Ohio, but was declined.

Federal and state law both indicated the wreck belonged to the State of Ohio, yet Ohio had not developed any type of law regarding salvage procedures. This law, from a bill (HB-264) introduced in 1991 by State Representative John Bara (D-Elyria), was passed and took effect later that year.

This law reserves shipwrecks deemed as historic to be the property of the state, and allowed for the state to choose their own salvage company if any salvage was warranted. Shipwrecks classified as "non-historic" would permit salvagers to keep 100% of their findings.

To date, the location of the wreck remains a mystery, or the location has not been revealed to others by Roalofs and Vance, who claim to have located the wreckage.

The following article appeared in the Daily Queen City Newspaper, Buffalo.N.Y. on Tuesday, April 30, 1850


(By O'Reilly's Western Telegraph.) Terrible Steamboat Explosion - Total Loss of the Steamer Anthony Wayne and From 60 to 80 Lives. Cleveland, Monday, April 29, 10 A. M.; From the Clerk of the Wayne, Mr. H.S. Vorse, who arrived here last night, we learn the following particulars:

The Wayneleft Toledo at 9 o'clock on Saturday morning, with about twenty five passengers and took on some forty more at Sandusky on Saturday night, leaving there at 10 o'clock. These, and the crew made the number on board from ninety to one hundred. About half-past 12 this A. M., (Sunday,) just below Vermillion, and some eight miles from shore, the two starboard boilers exploded throwing them into a perpendicular position, tearing away the steerage cabin above and shattering the hull badly. She sank in fifteen minutes, going down head foremost. The yawl was launched and twelve persons reached shore in it.

The life-boat half filled on launching and leaked badly, but six persons got ashore in her after six hours exertions by bailing constantly. Capt. Gore, James Edgcomb, 1st. mate, the 2nd. mate and Mr. Vorse, Clerk, are saved. Mr. J Ellmore, 1st, and Mr. Edward Burch, 2nd. Engineers are lost. Mr. D.A. Eddt, of Cleveland, was onboard, and was seen after the explosion, but whether he was saved is not known. The state room of the Captain next to the steerage cabin was blown to pieces and his bed was blown up side down, but her was unhurt.

When the Waynewent down she was on fire, and the flames were just bursting out. The cause we cannot state. The boilers were only a year old and in good condition. A fireman who escaped says that just before the accident he tried the boilers and there was plenty of water in them.

The Hurricane Deck is supposed to have floated and was thought to be seen from shore this morning. Two small vessels went out from Vermillion to pick up any survivors.

Our citizens will wait with painful anxiety to learn further particulars, and the fate of Mr. Eddy, one of their esteemed townsmen.

FURTHER PARTICULARS. Monday, 9 A. M. - One of the vessels which went out took off of the Hurricane Deck some thirty passengers, six dead. D.A. Eddy is safe and has telegraphed from Sandusky.

We learn further that the boilers were entirely new last season, and were built and put in under the superintendence of Wolcott, of Detroit. The engine is the one which was formerly in the Columbus. She exploded off Vermillion on her way from Sandusky to this port.

The Wayne was owned by Charles Howard & Co., of Detroit, and was running in opposition to the regular Sandusky line.

Daily Queen City, Buffalo; Tuesday, April 30, 1850


GLHS/PLESC archives

History of the Great Lakes

Cleveland Herald, April 29, 1850

Elyria Chronicle Telegram, June 21, 2007

Cleveland Plain Dealer, June 21, 2007

Columbus Dispatch, September 5, 1991 (Michael Lafferty, "LAKE ERIE STEAMER CARRIED GOLD TO BOTTOM, SALVAGERS BELIEVE"

Cleveland Plain Dealer, 9/10/91

Lloyd's Steamboat and Railway Directory and Disasters on the Western Waters, E. Lloyd, 1856

MARITIME HISTORY OF THE GREAT LAKES: a "digital library" - The Maritime History of the Great Lakes is managed by Walter Lewis

Great Lakes Shipwrecks and Survivals, William Rotigan

Ghost Fleet of the Perilous Passage, Gregor

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The latitude/longitude locations provided within are to the best of our knowledge, yet approximate.  Our sources include file data from GLHS/PLESRC, The Great Lakes Diving Guide by Chris Kohl ,MAST publicly published coordinates dive centers,  private divers and scuba clubs. However, these coordinates should NOT to be used for navigation. The reason for this is coordinates may vary slightly between each information source; due specifically to the fact that individual GPS instruments may perform slightly different from each other, for a variety of reasons.

If you plan to visit one of the shipwreck sites specifically for scuba diving purposes, we advise you contact one of the following for more up-to-date, exact locations and any new wreck information which may be available:



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