It is with great pride that the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society (GLSHS) announces the discovery of the long missing tug boat Satellite, that sank on June 21st, 1879, in just under 300 feet of water.

June 21st,1879 was a calm summer day on Lake Superior. The Satellite had four barges in tow when she ran into difficulties. One account suggests that she suffered a mechanical problem, while another says that she struck a floating log and started taking on water. Regardless of what happened, the Satellite went to the bottom of Lake Superior and has not been seen for 142 years. There was no loss of life.

Artwork of Satellite towing other vessels (courtesy of Bob Mcgreevy)

Fast forward to the summer of 2022. Josh Gates of Discovery Channel’s Expedition Unknown traveled to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum (Whitefish Point) to do a show on the missing 1918 French Minesweepers. Gates joined the Shipwreck Society’s crew aboard the R/V David Boyd to identify a submerged wreck. GLSHS Director of Marine Operations, Darryl Ertel, put the Society’s ROV (remotely operated vehicle) down on the target, and ascertained that it was not a minesweeper, but the Satellite. The minesweepers are made of steel while the Satellite was a wooden hulled vessel. We thank Josh and his crew for featuring the Shipwreck Society on Expedition Unknown.

Sonar image of the Satellite

Unfortunately, there are no known pictures of the Satellite. She was considered one of the most beautiful vessels on the Great Lakes at the time of her loss. The Detroit Press and Tribune wrote, “It is said that her cabin and upper works were the most elaborate put upon a craft of her kind”. If the Satellite looked anything like her sistership, the Sweepstakes (pictured), that would have been a sight to see!

Look for more news coming from the GLSHS soon!

For more photos, interviews and video, please contact: 
Corey Adkins, Communications/Contact Director GLSHS.

The Sweepstakes (sister ship of the Satellite)