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

Explore Shipwrecks: Stephen F. Gale

Ship Information

Ship Name: Stephen F. Gale 
Also Known As: S.F. Gale 
Type of Ship: Schooner, Wood, 2 masts  
Ship Size: 123' x 24' x 10' 
Ship Owner: Captain Andrew Hillson 
Gross Tonnage: 266 
Net Tonnage: 225 
Typical Cargo: Stone 
Year Built: 1847 - Chicago, Illinois, by James Averill  
Official Wreck Number: 22343 
Wreck Location: 41 44.451 N 81 52.919 W 
Type of Ship at Loss: Schooner, Wood- also reported as bark or brig 
Cargo on Ship at Loss: Mixed merchandise and stone 
Captain of Ship at Loss:  
The Shipwreck Today:

Chris Kohl, author of "The Great Lakes Diving Guide," contends, "An old stove sits in the open (the cabin floated to Fairport) below-deck area near the stern, the forward mast lies atop the port bow area, the railings are lined with deadeyes, a pump rests on the deck near the stern, a winch sits midship, chain and windlass repose on the bow, and the forward hatch contains a ladder. This is a great Cleveland-area shipwreck!"

The following observations were provided by Jack Papes, Cleveland, Ohio, wreck diver and MAST member:

Shipwreck Stephen F. Gale: 122'-6", 2 masted schooner built in 1847 at Chicago, Illinois. Foundered in a storm November 28, 1876. All hands were lost. The vessel currently lies upright, silted to the deck, on a mud bottom at a depth of 70 feet, approximately 18 miles north of Cleveland. The bow is split open, spread flat on the bottom. The windlass, anchor chain, and hawse pipe can be viewed here. Moving aft of the windlass, the capstan resembles a tree stump, uprooted lying on its side on the deck. The forward hold contains a cylindrical shaped object, what appears to be a spool of chain (unconfirmed). A fife rack with belaying pins still in place is located in this vicinity. The decking remains in place underneath scattered piles of large stone cargo. A deck winch, tow post, and mast hole exist aft of the forward hold, followed by a second hold and the pump. The cabin area, less cabin structure, holds a stove. The stern is collapsed. The rudder remains exposed and upright. Both port and starboard rails are intact with the deadeyes still in place. Additional details and photos are available at


Tuesday, November 28, 1876. Kohl states "She foundered with a cargo of stone, all hands and a cat."  

From the Cleveland Herald, December 5, 1876:

Since last Thursday rumors have been in circulation around the docks that a vessel was sunk about sixteen miles off this port in a northerly direction. It was first reported by the scow-schooner Charles Crawford, which arrived here on that day from Sand Beach, on Lake Huron. The captain stated that about eight o'clock that morning he passed the spars of a sunken vessel, giving the distance away as above stated. Since then various rumors have been afloat regarding the craft, what one it was, where she was bound, etc. As several Cleveland vessels, and among them the S.F. Gale, were overdue at this and other ports on Lake Erie, they were connected with the lost craft, and, in turn, each was reported as being the unfortunate one. Within the past few days, however it has been definitely settled in the minds of many that the Gale was the doomed one. Yesterday, a dispatch was received at this office, from Fairport, which states that: "The books of the S.F. Gale came ashore last Thursday night at the headlands west of Fairport, at the same point where other parts of a wreck were washed ashore the day previous." There can be no doubt but every person on the vessel was lost. The Gale cleared from this port November 13th for Port Stanley, with a load of coal. From there, she went to Kelleys Island and took on board a load of lime and stone for Erie. She was rated as a fair vessel, and Captain Hillson, her commander and owner, was a man respected by all who knew him. On Sunday there was a report that a vessel was sunk off Fairport. But it was probably occasioned by the fact that a portion of the wreck of the Gale washed ashore there, and as no name was attached by which the identity could be made known, it was supposed to be some other craft.

1. Kohl, C. 2001. The Great Lakes Diving Guide. Seawolf Communications, Inc., P.O. Box 66, West Chicago, IL, 60186.

2. Great Lakes Historical Society/Peachman Lake Erie Shipwreck Research Center Files

3. Historical Collection of the Great Lakes Great Lakes Vessel Online Index University Libraries/Bowling Green State University

4. The Cleveland Herald. December 5, 1876.

5. Swayze, D. 1999-2000. The Great Lakes Shipwreck File: Total Losses of Great Lakes Ships 1679-2000.

6. Jack Papes, personal communication and photo collections.

There is currently no multimedia available.  


The Ohio Sea Grant College Program is located within The Ohio State University. <Ohio Sea Grant Extension is part of Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Sea Grant College Program>.  Ohio Sea Grant is one of 32 programs in the National Sea Grant College Program, NOAA, U.S. Department of Commerce, all of which are dedicated to the protection and sustainable use of marine and Great Lakes resources.  Ohio Sea Grant uses a combination of research, education and outreach projects to address critical environmental, economic and education issues affecting Ohio, the Great Lakes region and the nation. Sea Grant is a true partnership between universities, government and the private sector. Each year the program supports projects at a number of Ohio colleges, universities and agencies. Also part of Ohio Sea Grant is the university's F.T. Stone Laboratory, located on Gibraltar Island at Put-in-Bay, Referred to as Ohio's Lake Erie Laboratory . Stone Lab was created in 1895, and is the oldest freshwater biological field station in the country. The Laboratory is administered by the School of Environment and Natural Resources in the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at Ohio State University.

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:



Shipwrecks and Maritime Tales of the Lake Erie Coastal Ohio Trail
 2019 © The Ohio State University,
 Ohio Sea Grant College Program.
 1314 Kinnear Rd, Area 100,
 Columbus, OH 43212-1156
 t: 614.292.8949, f: 614.292.4364
Ohio Department of Natural Resources Ohio Costal Management Program NOAA Ohio State University Ohio Sea Grant GLIN