The Glenlyon History

The Glenlyon (Official Number 126660 Canadian; 81427 American) was built in 1893 at West Bay City, Michigan by the F.W. Wheeler & Co. to be used in the package freight trade.  The dimensions of this steel screw steamer were 328 ft in length with a beam of 42 ft and depth of 20 ft.  It was powered by a 1200 horsepower triple expansion steam engine with cylinders of 20, 32, and 54 inches and a 42 inch stroke.  The original Scotch boilers were 12 feet in diameter, but were later replaced with 13 feet 9 inch boilers.  

Vessel number 81427 was originally named William H. Gratwick and later renamed Minnekahta in 1912, then again renamed the Glenlyon in 1914.  During this time the ship was sold and resold several times and was finally bought by the Great Lakes Transportation Company Ltd. of Midland, Ontario.  The registry was changed to Canadian, which explains why two registry numbers, one U.S. and one Canadian, are recorded for the ship.  At the time all of the GLT Co. vessels were named with names starting with "Glen" such as Glenfinnan, Glenledie, and Glenlochie.  During its shipping career the Glenlyon hauled not only package freight, but also and mainly the bulk cargo, and even passenger trade for a short time in both U.S. and Canada, which is an unusual history for any Great Lakes ship.

It stranded on Nov. 1, 1924 on the shoal now named for it, off the tip of Menagerie Island, Isle Royale, while trying to seek shelter in Siskiwit Bay from a major storm .  The Glenlyon was down bound from Ft. William with a load of wheat.  It had been a particularly stormy October and the Glenlyon was forced to wait out a storm at anchor behind the Welcome Islands.  On Friday afternoon October 31, Captain Taylor decided the gale had subsided enough to resume his trip.  Not long after he departed the wind shifted and picked up again from the southwest with winds up to 60 miles per hour.  Captain Taylor headed his ship down the south shore of Isle Royale to the shelter of Siskiwit Bay, which was a common place for ships to seek shelter in storms.  At 1:00 AM Saturday morning the Glenlyon ran hard aground on a shoal off the tip of Menagerie Island. 

The distress call was keyed out on the ships wireless and the other ships of the fleet Glensannox and Glenlinnie raced to the scene and maintained the vigil in the lee of Isle Royale until morning light.  Soon after the grounding the captain ordered the pumps shut down to hold the ship firmly on the shoal.  By late Saturday morning the Glenlinnie was able to pull along side of the Glenlyon and transfer the crew to the Glensannox.  By midnight the Coast Guard Cutter Cook arrived from Sault Ste. Marie after having been delayed by mechanical difficulties and terrible sea conditions.

The salvage companies only managed to lighter 75,000 bushels of wheat between storms in the following weeks in hopes of re-floating the Glenlyon, but the condition of the ship continued to deteriorate.  Eventually it was beyond repair and the project was abandoned by the salvage companies.  It remained on the shoal through the winter, but by April of 1925 had broken in two and slipped beneath the surface.  Its wreckage is now scattered along both sides of the reef--the stern wreckage on the outside and the bow wreckage on the inside of what is now called Glenlyon shoal.

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