Shipwreck near Sheboygan named to National Register

Divers inspect the Walter B. Allen, which lies in about 170 feet of Lake Michigan, seven miles northeast of Sheboygan

By Dan Benson - Sheboygan Press

A ship lying on the Lake Michigan floor seven miles northeast of Sheboygan — and considered one of the best preserved of any Great Lakes shipwreck – has been named to the National Register of Historic Places.

The canaller Walter B. Allen, which sank in a storm in April 1880, lies upright and intact in about 170 feet of water and is remarkably well preserved, experts say.

"This ship is remarkably intact. It's one of the best preserved in Lake Michigan," said Jim Draeger, deputy state historic preservation officer at the Wisconsin Historical Society in Madison.

Putting the ship on the National Register of Historic Places "will help the public understand that ships like this exist in Great Lakes waters and educates them about the importance of Great Lakes shipping to the history of Wisconsin," Draeger said. "It also provides some protections to the property under state law."

According to the society's Maritime Underwater Archaeology web site, The Walter B. Allen was called a canaller because it was built to fit through the Welland Canal locks that connect Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, bypassing Niagara Falls.

It was built in Ogdensburg, N.Y., in 1866 and was the largest of the canaller class of schooners built on the Great Lakes. It typically shipped grain from Chicago to Buffalo or Oswego, N.Y., and then returned with coal.

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