F.H. Prince

Ship Name: F.H. Prince 
Also Known As: None 
Type of Ship: Propeller Steamer, Wood, Package Freighter; Converted to sand/gravel dredge 1910 
Ship Size: 240' x 42' x 25' 
Ship Owner: Rutland Transit Company 
Gross Tonnage: 2047 
Net Tonnage: 1547 
Typical Cargo: Gravel, Sand 
Year Built: 1890 - Detroit Michigan, Detroit Shipbuilding Company  
Official Wreck Number: 120797 
Wreck Location: 41 36.240 N 82 40.520 W (Kohl, Kelch) 
Type of Ship at Loss: Prop, Wood, Steamer 
Cargo on Ship at Loss: Sand or Gravel 
Captain of Ship at Loss: H.H. Parsons 

Lies approximately 1/2 mile offshore, east of the Kelleys Island Airport in 16-18 feet of water. Waves and ice have scattered some of the wreck. The wreck itself is approximately 240 feet in length and contains the keel and keelsons, many of the ribs, planking, and engine works. Depending on lake levels, remaining boiler can be +/- 4 feet beneath the surface, often presenting a hazard to unknowing boaters.

A very popular site for scuba and snorkel divers. Anglers are also attracted to the shipwreck by large numbers of smallmouth bass, rock bass and other sport fishy species. Few angler/diver conflicts have been report, as both respect the rights of each other to use the site.

Site is not yet permanently buoyed, but is on the MAST (Maritime Archeological Survey Team) buoying schedule. Generally the site will have a plastic milk jug tied to the boiler by divers/anglers throughout the summer. Visibility depends upon lake conditions and algae blooms. Varies from 1-2 feet to 15-18 feet. Wreck is encrusted by zebra/quagga mussels, with white/brown freshwater sponge scattered throughout. Various type of submerged aquatic vegetation is observed during the summer month, with an occasional Lake Erie water snake sited. For more detail, see the OSG Dive Plate, OHSU-GS-02/Prince, available from Ohio Sea Grant.


August 8, 1911. Caught fire and was run aground at East end of Kelleys Island by Captain H.H. Parsons. Other sandsucking vessels attempted to douse the flames with their water pumps, but to no avail. The ship was left smoldering on site due to arguments between the owners, salvage crews and the captain over whether or not the ship could be restored to service. The smoldering wreck caught fire again on August 14 and was declared a total loss. No loss of life; captain and crew of 18 saved. Engines and boilers salvaged in 1914; one boiler still remains at the site. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, article, August 10, 1911).  


Named after Fredrick Henry Prince, broker, financier and graduate of Harvard University, born November 24, 1859, in Winchester, Massachusetts. The Rutland Transit Company, one of his clients, named the ship after Mr. Prince. There is an extremely interesting Technical Report of the F.H. Prince, available from the Great Lakes Historical Society in Vermilion, Ohio. This 84 page report documents the entire history of the vessel, provides detailed information regarding that period of time on Kelleys Island, including the islands sand, gravel and limestone industry. (See references below for more information)  


Great Lakes Historical Society, Peachman Lake Erie Shipwreck Research Center (GLHS/PLESRC), P.O. Box 435, 480 Main Street, Vermilion, Ohio 44089, Historical Files and Photo Collections

Wreck of the Steamer F.H. Prince, An Archaeological Investigation in Lake Erie at Kelleys Island, Ohio, Linda L. Pansing, Charles E. Herdendorf, Ph.D., Great Lakes Historical Society, Peachman Lake Erie Shipwreck Research Center, Vermilion, Ohio. Technical Report No. 3, 2005

Lake Erie Shipwreck Research Center Technical Report #1

Profile of Shipwrecks in the Vicinity of Kelleys Island, Lake Erie

C.E. Herdendorf, L.L. Pansing, November 2000

Great Lakes Historical Society, Peachman Lake Erie Shipwreck Research Center, Vermilion, Ohio

Herdendorf, C. E., C. P. Labadie, L. L. Pansing, and D. O. Kelch. 2002. Guides to Lake Erie's Historic Shipwrecks: Adventure, W. R. Hanna, and F. H. Prince. Great Lakes Historical Society, Vermilion, OH and The Ohio State University, Ohio Sea Grant College Program Guide Series OHSU-GS-020, Columbus, OH. 3 double-sided underwater diver slates.

The Great Lakes Shipwreck File:

Total Losses of Great Lakes Ships 1679-2000

David Swayze 1999-2000


The Great Lakes Diving Guide, Cris Kohl 2001, Seawolf Communications, Inc.

P.O. Box 66, West Chicago, Illinois 60186 (416 pgs.)

Telephone (630)293-8996