Shipwrecks of Grand Traverse Bay: The Eagle

Divers explore the Eagle off the coast of Northport near Traverse City. (Chris Roxburgh via Facebook)

By Aaron Voogt
October 12, 2022

Taking a boat ride along the coast of Grand Traverse Bay, there are some sights you expect to see: Sandy beaches. Cherry orchards and wineries. Tourists enjoying the water. But what you might not expect are all the sights you could find below the water’s surface. 

TRAVERSE CITY—Grand Traverse Bay is home to dozens of known shipwrecks, spanning from the early 1800s to the late 1900s. Now a popular vacation area, the bay was once a hub for commerce and maritime trade—and like most trade routes, this one has a storied past.

Check back every Wednesday as we explore history in Shipwrecks of Grand Traverse Bay. This is the fourth story in the series—a sad story of neglect in Northport.

The Eagle

When commercial fisherman Edwin Middletone built himself a new fishing boat in 1919, he christened her the Eagle: a 38-foot-long wooden fish tug with a state-of-the-art steam engine and gill net.

But when sea lampreys invaded the Great Lakes and decimated native fish populations, it forced Edwin to walk away from his fishing business—literally. In 1940, he decided to tie up the Eagle at his dock in Northport on the northwest side of Grand Traverse Bay, and then let nature take its course.  

When winter arrived, ice pushed the boat over, and it sank.

Parts of the ship are still there today, along with lumber from the old dock, six feet below the surface.

Similar in fate to the Eagle, the Nyord was another boat taken down by winter neglect in the 1970s. The history is spotty, but the ship is still lodged 54 feet down below the water off the coast of Traverse City.

For more information on shipwrecks in the area, the Grand Traverse Bay Underwater Preserve, which works to preserve these historic shipwrecks and promote education about them, is a great resource. Click here for information and locations of many more shipwrecks.


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