Sidewheel Steamer Niagara

Sidewheel Steamer Niagara (HMVP9)

Location: Port Washington, WI 53074 Ozaukee County
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Country: United States of America
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N 43° 23.306', W 87° 52.082'

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Historic Shipwreck

— Wisconsin's Maritime Trails —

Type: sidewheel "palace steamer"
Built: 1846, Bidwell & Banta, Buffalo, N.Y.
Sank: Sept. 24, 1856, burned
Length: 245'
Beam: 33'
Cargoes: passengers, package freight
Propulsion: single-cylinder walking beam engine, sidewheelsDepth: 55'

From 1844 to 1857, lavish vessels known as "palace steamers" dominated Great Lakes passenger and package trade. Carrying hundreds of passengers and large cargoes, these opulent boats offered the fastest and most dependable transportation between the East and the Midwest before railroads connected these regions. Considered "the most beautifully appointed craft ever built on the Lakes," palace steamers marked the pinnacle of Great Lakes passenger service. The Niagara, the second of 25 palace steamers to work the lakes, was a familiar sight along western Lake Michigan and brought thousands of settlers to Wisconsin.

On September 23, 1856, the Niagara left Sheboygan, Wisconsin, for Port Washington. Around 4 p.m., fire broke out. The engines soon quit, bringing the vessel's giant paddlewheels to a halt. As smoke and flames engulfed the boat 4-5 miles offshore, passengers panicked, causing one of Wisconsin's deadliest transportation disasters. Despite rescue efforts, over 60 people died, many from drowning while frantically trying to board the lifeboats. Today, the remains of the Niagara memorialize the people and the vessels that fueled the early growth and development of the Midwest.

Through the Maritime Trails, the Wisconsin Historical Society and Wisconsin Sea Grant are working with local communities to preserve our maritime heritage. To learn more, visit
HM NumberHMVP9
Series This marker is part of the Wisconsin: Wisconsin's Maritime Trails series
Placed ByWisconsin Historical Society and Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Sunday, October 5th, 2014 at 7:49am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)16T E 429695 N 4804316
Decimal Degrees43.38843333, -87.86803333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 43° 23.306', W 87° 52.082'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds43° 23' 18.36" N, 87° 52' 4.92" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)262
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 299 E Main St, Port Washington WI 53074, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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