Erie L. Hackley (1882)
The Erie L. Hackley
By The Numbers
Lives Lost
Depth (ft)
Service History

The Erie L. Hackley spent her early years carrying passengers and freight around the Muskegon area. In 1898 she moved northward to carry mail and passengers between Charlevoix and Beaver Island. To make her more seaworthy on the open waters, the Erie L. Hackley was rebuilt with high forward bulwarks and a raised pilothouse. The Hackley sailed the Manitou Islands route for the 1902 season. In 1903, the newly formed Fish Creek transportation Company purchased the Erie L. Hackley to serve its Green Bay route.
Final Voyage

On October 3,1903, the Erie L. Hackley departed Menominee around 5:45 p.m., with nineteen people aboard, bound for Egg Harbor across the bay. About an hour later, a violent squall arose, whipping the waves to monstrous heights. Soon, great walls of water crashed onto the vessel, tearing the pilothouse and cabin from the hull. The waves swept the passengers and crew overboard before they could grab life preservers. The Erie L. Hackley sank in five minutes, leaving a trail of people and debris floating in the seething waters. Several castaways managed to climb aboard the floating cabin. They remained there through the night, occasionally being swept into the raging seas. The following morning, they were spotted by the passing steamer Sheboygan. The steamer's crew picked them up and found several others in the surrounding waters. They clothed and fed the survivors before transferring them to a passing fishing boat bound for Fish Creek. Only eight of the nineteen people survived.

The Hackley was discovered near Green Island in 1980. Some of the artifacts were recovered at that time. In late 1981, Hoffmann's crew decided to attempt to raise the wreck. During August and September, cables were dredged under the hull and made ready for the lift. Normally before raising an ancient wreck, all mud enveloping the hull is jetted away to reduce suction. Due to the deteriorating fall weather, the raising of the Hackley was attempted without massive mud jetting. The tenacious ooze refused to release the ship and the cables pulled free bringing only the ship's rudder and a 38 foot section of rail to the surface. The aborted salvage attempt had come almost 100 years from the date that the ship was launched in Muskegon. Today, the Erie L. Hackley lies in 110 feet of water, two miles northeast of Green Island. She sits upright and is mostly intact. In place are her engine, boiler, the cargo of red bricks, some decking as well as her sides and bow. Her stern has been damaged.
Confirmed Location     Unconfirmed location
© 2017 - Wisconsin Sea Grant, Wisconsin Historical Society