While sailing light to pick up a cargo at the lumber pier in Ahnapee (Algoma), Wisconsin on 23 March 1879, Alaska
was caught in a gale and pushed ashore north of the Twin Rivers point lighthouse. The crew all escaped the vessel safely, although they were drenched and mildly suffered from exposure. Great efforts were made to free and relaunch the craft, but it ultimately could not be made seaworthy and sank not far from where it stranded. The winter of 1879-1880 was especially harsh and all efforts to save the Alaska
failed and the scow schooner was left stranded and abandoned.
Today the scow schooner Alaska
lies in five feet of water on the bottom of Lake Michigan, partially covered by sand south off the southern end of Point Beach State Forest. The vessel’s bow, deck machinery, centerboard trunk, some rigging implements, and much of its hull structure, remain intact on the site beneath the shifting sand. The Alaska
site was discovered in May 2014 by a ultralight aircraft pilot, Suzze Johnson, when enough of the wreckage was exposed due to sand movement. Given its recent uncovering, the Alaska
remains lightly visited by divers, snorkelers, kayakers and boaters. The vessel's stern, and portions of its lower hull and associated debris field are covered by shifting sands.
A dive guide for this vessel is available for purchase.
Master shipbuilder Smith Neville, Sr., built the Alaska
in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, in 1869, for the Sheboygan businessman Adolph Hoechner for use in the lumber trade. For the vessel's decade long career, it operated primarily in the Lake Michigan lumber trade.
had been bought and sold numerous times and was invovled in a few accidents over her life.
Last Document of Enrollment Surrendered: Milwaukee; June 30, 1881: "Total Loss" (she was actually stranded and abandoned).