Box Barge

Designing Models in Earth Science Workshop

The box barge is one of many scuttled vessels on the bottom of Lake Michigan off Chicago. When the cost of scrapping an old or unuseful vessel exceeded the value of the scrap, ship owners simply disposed of the vessel in the lake. This was common practice in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This barge was purposefully sunk using dynamite which is apparent from the two "blow-outs" on opposite sides of the barge.

Few clues remain to suggest the identity of this barge. Anything useful or valuable would have been removed prior to scuttling. The riveted construction suggests she was built between 1900 and World War 1. The base inside the barge suggests she may have been a crane barge used for construction work.

The Site Today

This sectional deck barge was scuttled about six miles due east of Chicago. She rests in sixty five feet of water and is an interesting dive because the wreck is so completely intact. It is also one of the few all-steel wrecks in the Chicago area.

The barge provides an interesting view of riveted construction not in use today. An easy and safe swim inside the vessel will reveal a small buildup of sand, some loose debris, stone and miscellaneous pieces of lumber. On a high visibility day, you are likely to see from one end of the barge to the other and it is quite common to find a school of fish hovering in and about this wreck. Both are truly remarkable sites in Lake Michigan.

The Underwater Archaeological Society encourages all divers to visit this wreck. Local charters are available to take you to the site. Remember! Illinois law prohibits the removal of anything from this or any other historic wreck. Please help preserve our maritime heritage!