Since October 1961 the Steel Products has been aground off Sherkston Beach. This abandoned ship has been known as the “wreck” as long as I have been a regular on the Lake Erie shore.
This “wreck” has become a symbol of Sherkston and the reef, a backdrop for countless photos and stories
( click on the photos for a close up)
and a huge part of our lives on Lake Erie’s shore.
I have swam out to it, jumped off the deck ( when it had a deck)
sailed and paddled around it.
Mother Nature has taken its toll on our great symbol of the reef.
With that being said I would like to share the history of the wreck.
The Steel Products was named Venus for 50 years before being sold to Marine Salvage of Port Colborne. The 346 foot vessel was equipped with a crane and often carried scrap steel. After a long career she was taken under tow on October 26, 1961 to be scrapped at Dwor Metal Co. While anchored in heavy weather she slipped anchor on Oct. 28th and went aground. The decision was made to strip her in the spring so a crew of men were left on board for the winter. Come spring a road was built to her and the engines and part of her hull were removed. She was built in 1901 in Lorain, OH by American Shipbuilding Co.
I would like to thank Mike & Georgann Wachter for sharing this bit of history.
The road that was built for the salvage operation was left in place and became a walk way to the wreck through waist deep water. You did have to swim the last 20 yards or so. Many times the friendly locals would answer calls for help because some one who was not a strong swimmer or some one who had a little too much libation got themselves out to the wreck, but could not get back in.
In the early 1980’s the price of steel skyrocketed and scrapers went after what was left of the wreck cutting away much of the hull and deck throughout the winter months. They may have removed the whole thing but the bulldozer they were using fell through the ice and caused some setbacks preventing they job from being finished.
A great place to explore with kayaks and paddle boards,snorkel around as well as fish, this old barge attracts visitors every day.
The recent winters have really taken a toll on the old girl. Low water levels,
heavy wind storms,
and time have weaken the remaining structure and twisted the bow and rear sections to near unrecognizable forms
It is only a matter of time before the whole thing falls victim to Mother Natures wrecking ball.
Below are some recent photo’s from the fall of 2013 and the winter of 2014.
(Thanks to John for the photo’s)