Shipwrecks of the Great Lakes

Charles H. Bradley

Type:		Wooden Steamer
Length:		201.0 x 37.0 x 13.6 ft., 804 gt., 624 nt.
Depth:		1 - 5 ft.
Location:	Southwest Portage Lake, 350 ft. SSW of green daymark 27
LON/LAT:	47.02'13" / 88.29'02"

On the morning of October 9, 1931 the wooden steamer Charles H. Bradley was downbound partially loaded with pulpwood for Georgian Bay. She was towing her usual consort, the 218 ft. barge Grampian as she headed into the canal toward the South Entry of the Keweenaw Waterway. Unfortunately, the light beacon for the channel was out that morning and the Bradley strayed too far West, grounding herself on the edge of the channel. Still having momentum, the Grampian careened into the stern of the Bradley damaging her electrical conduits as well as the steam pipe to her fire pumps.

Fire immediately broke out near the pilot house and the crew tried to fight the blaze with buckets of water. When it became apparent that the Bradley was lost, Captain Golomblaky ordered his men to abandon ship and they were taken off onto the Grampian. The pulpwood quickly fueled the fire which consumed the Bradley's upper works.

The Charles H. Bradley had been built in 1890 at West Bay City, Michigan. Only minor salvage was conducted following the accident, as the vessel was badly burned. She settled in about 5 feet of water where she remained a navigation hazard for many years until she was razed to 3 ft. below the waterline.

Today the remains of the Bradley can be found off the mouth of the Sturgeon River, just in from the West edge of the entrance to the ship canal in Southwest Portage Lake. She is still marked on NOAA charts as a hazard to navigation and can be easily located. Divers will find her almost completely covered by sand and mud with only her top portions exposed. The site can be easily reached from many boat launches in the area.

The Bradley was recently identified by Marquette area diver Dan Fountain using hull and boiler records and had previously been confused with the remains of the Alfred P. Wright off the South Entry Lighthouse.

The Bradley burning, October 9, 1931

References: Keweenaw Shipwrecks by Fred Stonehouse, Julius F. Wolff Jr.'s Lake Superior Shipwrecks, , Shipwreck! by David Swayze, Michigan Technological University Archives, Dan Fountain

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