Frank D. Barker (1867)
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Final Voyage


October 1, 1887. The schooner Frank D. Barker, bound from Manistee, Michigan to Escanba, Michigan for a load of iron ore, stranded on Spider Island Reef owing to "thick weather". Captain Lynch had hoped to stay on course through the fog, but ran upon the limestone outcropping near Rowley's Bay in Wisconsin's Door County Peninsula.

"The tug Spalding was sent down during the day following, but the wind and waves had got in their work in the meantime and nothing could be done to save the stranded craft. Capt. Lynch, the master, therefore abandoned his vessel to the underwriters, and she will be stripped as soon as possible." Door County Advocate 10/8/1887.

"...Other salvors in the area did not give up quite that readily. Salvage attempts were made in October of 1887 and again in June, August, September, and October of 1888; all proved futile. By late november the port side of the hull was missing; what remained was finally blown from the reef by a late fall storm and reportedly sunk on the west side of the shoal" Walter Hirthe

E. S. Minor had purchased the Barker for $1,700 and was one of the salvors attempting to salvage the vessel but by late fall of 1887 efforts proved to be futile. With the destruction of the wreck over the winter, E.S. Minor had lost an estimated $5,000.
Service History


The two masted wooden schooner Frank D. Barker was built in Clayton, Ohio in 1867. The vessel was valued at $17,000 and rated A2 in 1874.

November 1879: "The schooner Frank D. Barker, laden with 500 tons of hard coal from Buffalo, bound up in tow of the tug S.S. Edsall, went ashore at Bar Point Wednesday morning and now lies in about eight feet of water. As soon as the weather moderates, some of the coal will be thrown overboard in order that she may be pulled off. Her cargo is consigned to stubensky & Co. of Detroit. The tug Parker will go to her assistance today." Soundings, Winter 1998.

Last Document Of Enrollment Surrendered: Cleveland: 12/18/1889: "Vessel Lost".
Today


"Any parts of the Barker that may still exist today have never been found despite several searches by various diving groups. The original wreck reports put the Barker on Spider Island proper, but later ones mention a reef. Local Door County residents once called a reef south of Spider Island "Parker's Reef". This could simply be an alteration of "Barkers Reef" and be the actual wreck site. No one knows for certain." Walter Hirthe
© 2017 - Wisconsin Sea Grant, Wisconsin Historical Society