— Wisconsin's Maritime Trails —
Type: wooden schooner
Built: 1871, Hanson & Scove, Manitowoc, Wis.
Sank: Oct. 24, 1884
Cargoes: pig iron
Propulsion: sail, three-masted
Depth of wreckage: 15'
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003. T
he Christina Nilsson
typifies the vast fleet of Great Lakes schooners built after the Civil War. Serving as the semi-trucks of their day, these vessels ferried bulk goods and cargoes throughout the Great Lakes. Named after a renowned Swedish diva, the three-masted schooner Christina Nilsson
spent her career carrying grain and iron bulk cargoes.
Her final voyage began on October 23, 1884, when she cleared Escanaba, Michigan, carrying 575 tons of pig iron bound for Chicago. By the time the Nilsson
passed the Sturgeon Bay ship canal, the weather had deteriorated into a blinding snowstorm with gale force winds and high seas. Unable to see the entrance of the canal, Captain N.A. Hammer turned the Nilsson
north in an attempt to outrun the storm and seek the protective shelter of Baileys Harbor.
As the schooner fought her way toward relative safety, the gale and the blinding blizzard forced her dangerously close to the east shore of Baileys Harbor. At 8:30 A.M. on October 24, 1884, the Christina Nilsson
struck Outer Reef and began to founder. She soon sank in 15 feet of water, where the waves on the reef literally pounded her to pieces. All eight crew members abandoned the stricken vessel and made their way to shore in the Nilsson's
yawl boat. No lives were lost.
Lying on the reef just off the Old Baileys Harbor Lighthouse, the wreck of the Christina Nilsson
illustrates the dangers of navigating the Great Lakes in the nineteenth-century. The Nilsson's
close proximity to shore, shallow depth and easy accessibility make it an ideal site for for divers, kayakers, and snorkelers to discover the history beneath Lake Michigan's waves. The main site is marked by a Wisconsin Historical Society seasonal shipwreck mooring buoy. logos of: Wisconsin Historical Society, Sea Grant · University of Wisconsin
Title to Wisconsin's submerged archaeological sites is held in public trust by the State of Wisconsin. As steward of these unique historical and recreational resources, the Wisconsin Historical Society encourages responsible diver visitation of these sites. Please leave these sites intact for future generations to enjoy. Wisconsin law prohibits unauthorized disturbance or removal of artifacts, structure, cargo, or human remains. Report archaeological site looting at (800) TIP-WDNR.
This marker was produced with funds from the Federal Highway Administration's Transportation Enhancement Program, administered through the Wisconsin Department of transportation.
CAUTION: Dive at your own risk. Sea Grant and the Wisconsin Historical Society accept no responsibility for loss of any kind including personal injury or property damage. In case of emergency, contact the Coast Guard by marine radio channel 16 or by phone at (414) 747-7182. For diving emergencies, call Divers Alert Network at (919) 684-8111.