James H. Johnson (1882)
Scroll Down
By The Numbers
Lives Lost
Depth (ft)
Service History

The 20 horsepower steam engine powered propeller James H. Johnson was built in 1882 at St. Joseph, Michigan. The vessel's official registry number was 76340 and her home port was Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Last Document Of Enrollment No. 35: Surrendered: Milwaukee: May 14, 1895: "Total Loss".
Final Voyage

The steambarge James H. Johnson ran aground on Horseshoe Reef, on the night of May 1st, 1895.The five crew members of the Johnson were rescued by fishermen in their poundnet boat after she was stranded on the unmarked Horseshoe reef of Sister Bay, Door County Peninsula. The stranding took place on the northern section of the reef known as the "Rock". In normal years she may well have cleared the reef, but 1895 was a year of low water. The cargo of hay was destroyed, although most of the bricks were salvaged within days by salvagers from the schooner Ebenezer. The Johnson began to disintegrate, within three weeks washing the hay and her cabin ashore. By spring, she was scattered around the reef along with any remaining bricks in twenty to twenty-five feet of water.

The James H. Johnson's steam engine and boilers were salvaged by Charles Peak in 1895 while using the the steambarge Imperial for his work platform. The salvaged machinery was installed a year later in the tug Commodore Jack Barry.

The wreck of the James H.Johnson lies in 20 to 25 feet of water along the base of the northern section of Horseshoe Reefs known as the "Rock". These reefs are located in Sister Bay on the Door County Peninsula of Wisconsin. The Johnson has been reduced by storms and ice to its keelson members along with some ribbing and planks. Also, some parts of the machinery can be found. The propeller had been raised and put on display at a local motel. Many bricks litter the area giving the name of the site "Brick Boat".
© 2023 - Wisconsin Sea Grant, Wisconsin Historical Society