Ship Type: Wooden Schooner, 3-mast
Lifespan: Built 1861, Sunk 1889
Depths: 60ft - 115ft
Location: Rock Island Shoal, St. Lawrence River, New York
The A.E. Vickery was built in 1861 and launched in July of that year at Three Mile Bay in New York. Originally named the J.B. Penfield, she was renamed in February 1884 as the A.E. Vickery. A three masted wooden schooner, she was carrying a load of corn en-route to Wisers Distillery in Prescott, Ontario, when she struck the shoals in the narrows on August 17, 1889. There was no loss of life in the sinking.
The wreck itself lies on a ledge adjacent to Rock Island Shoal. The site is buoyed with a line that takes you down to the shoal, then over the ledge to the port bow of the wreck, which lies at approximately 60 ft in depth. The wreck continues down the ledge and reaches a depth of about 115 ft at it's stern. The wreck site is at the entrance to the American Narrows, and the shoal causes the water to speed up as it passes up and over. The current ranges from significant to very fast, making this a dive for advanced divers only. Because the wreck lies at an angle on backside of the shoal, the current is more mild if one remains close to the deck. For qualified divers, the wreck can be penetrated through a number of cargo hatches in the deck. Once inside, threes no current. At the bow of the wreck is the ship's windlass, with a large chain spill over the starboard bow. Two section of masts lie in deep water to the starboard side of the wreck.
Ship Type: Steel Freighter
Lifespan: Built 1910, Sunk 1912
Depths: 25ft - 115ft
Location: Scow Island Shoal, St. Lawrence River, New York
Level: Open Water to Advanced
The SS Keystorm had a very short lifespan plying the waters of the St. Lawrence River, Great Lakes, and regional canals. In the early morning hours of October 26, 1912 she ran aground on Outer Scow Island Shoal in the St. Lawrence River below Alexandria Bay while downbound with a cargo of coal.
The ship's captain had gone to bed despite the foggy conditions, and the first mate lost sight of the navigational lights, but failed to reduce speed, drifting south of the shipping channel and striking the shoal. The pumps were unable to keep up with the water inflow from the huge gash opened on her port side and, some five hours after the accident, she slipped off the shoal and foundered in deep water from which she was never raised. She currently rests on her starboard side at a steep angle from approximately 25 to 115 feet. A significant current is generally present at the surface, but descent lines allow for divers to reach the bow with little difficulty. Once in the lee of the wreck, the current is eliminated. The Keystorm's large open holds amidships make for easy swim-throughs and provide a haven for fish. The stern and her large propeller lie at 115 feet. The fatal wound to her hull can still be seen near the port side bow, along with a plaque placed by the Ontario-based Save-Our-Shipwrecks.
Ship Type: Steel Drill Barge
Lifespan: Built: Unknown, Sunk June 20, 1932
Length: 92 ft
Depths: 80 ft
Location: South of Dark Island, St. Lawrence River, New York
The America, properly called The American, is a steel drill barge that was working to widen the shipping channel in the spring of 1932. It's crew were using dynamite to blast the granite walls of the channel edge. During a thunderstorm on June 20, 1932, the barge was struck by lightning, exploding the store of dynamite and sending the entire structure to the bottom, where it came to rest upside down next to the channel wall.
The bottom is still strewn with the rectangular blocks blasted away by the workers and a thick layer of oil, so care should be taken to avoid making contact with the bottom sands. Large groups of walleye are often present. There is a mild current, and the site lies under the shipping channel making it a virtual overhead environment; as such it should only be visited by skilled/advanced divers.
Ship Type: Wooden Schooner
Lifespan: Built 1889, Sunk November 4, 1929
Length: 90 ft
Depths: 75 ft
Location: Near Village of Clayton, St. Lawrence River, New York
Level: Open Water/Intermediate
The wooden schooner the Maggie L. was one of the very last commercial sailing vessels still operating on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River in 1929. She was sunk on November 4 of that year following a collision with the steel freighter Keystate. The skipper, Captain M. H. Mellow, of Bath, Ontario, was turning from the main shipping channel, headed for the Clayton docks. As she swung to the south, she collided with the Keystate, a 260-ton steel freighter of the Keystone Lines of Canada, shearing off her entire bow. There were no fatalities and the crew reached shore using the life boat which was being towed by the Maggie L. The ship's exact location was unknown for 45 years until it was located in the early 1970’s by sport divers. Little record exists about the aftermath of the accident and who was found to be at fault.
The site generally has a significant surface current, with a buoy and descent line allowing divers to pull themselves down to the wreck where the current abates.
View a 3-D model of the wreck at this website.
Ship Type: Wooden Sidewheel Steamer
Lifespan: Built 1871, Sunk September 16, 1909
Length: 125 ft
Depths: 25 - 60 ft
Location: Village of Alexandria Bay, St. Lawrence River, NY
Level: Open Water
Built in Rochester New York, the Islander began service
On the night of September 16, 1909, she was tied to the Cornwall Building Dock in Alexandria Bay, when she caught fire just after midnight and burned to the waterline. The fire was so immense that the guests in the Thousand Island House and the nearby Marsden House were awakened, but fortunately the buildings did not burn.
There is generally a very mild current present, running in the opposite direction due to the eddy created by Casino Island lust upstream. Diving straight out from the on-shore ramp, down the slope to a depth of around 25 feet places you roughly amidships, with the bow section deeper and to your left. The wreck lies parallel to the shore on the steep slope, making the starboard side much deeper.
If you make you way downriver, you will pass some underwater obstacle course structures, while farther along, local divers have set up a "tea party" with chairs, a skeleton, and bottles and other debris from the bottom.
Roy A. Jodrey
Ship Type: Steel Freighter - Bulk Carrier
Lifespan: Built 1965, Sunk November 22, 1974
Length: 640 ft
Depths: 145-254 ft
Location: Off Wellesley Island, Alexandria Bay, St. Lawrence River, NY
Built in Collingwood, Ontario for the Algoma company, the Jodrey was a bulk carrier that hauled coal, limestone, road salt and other materials for years along the St. Lawrence Seaway and Great Lakes.
On the fateful night of her sinking, the Roy A. Jodrey was upbound enroute from Quebec to Detroit, Michigan carrying 20,500 tons of iron ore. At 10:40 PM the ship passed the Sunken Rock Lighthouse just downriver from Alexandria Bay. Shortly thereafter, she struck the navigational buoy on Pullman Shoal, opening a gash in her starboard side. Captain Hugh McDowell ordered all crew on deck and sounded the alarm that the ship was taking on water. All attempts to patch the hull failed, and as hours passed, it became obvious that the ship would sink. Captain McDowell attempted to run his ship aground near the Coast Guard Station on Wellesley Island, but, at 3:02 AM, the Roy A. Jodrey slid beneath the surface and sunk over 140 feet to the bottom. All 29 crew members made it off the ship safely.
There is a strong current, little to no ambient light, and the site lies very close to the main shipping channel with heavy boat traffic.
Sir Robert Peel
Ship Type: Wooden Steamship
Lifespan: Built 1837, Sunk May 29, 1838
Length: 115 ft
Depths: 120-135 ft
Location: Wellesley Island, Fishers Landing, St. Lawrence River, NY
The Sir Robert Peel was constructed just a few miles downriver from her final resting place, in Brockville Ontario. The ship was renown for its luxurious cabins and dining spaces, but lived a tragically short life. Launched in May of 1837, she would be seized by pirates and set ablaze just one year later.
On the night of May 29, 1838, the Sir Robert stopped on Wellesley Island to take on wood to fuel her boilers, when a group of twenty-two men in disguises seized the vessel, ordered its crew and passengers ashore, and set fire to the ship before setting it adrift. She sank just downriver from where she had moored. The incident was a part of the 1837-1838 "Patriot War" insurrection in Canada, wherein disaffected Canadians and American sympathizers sought freedom for Canada from British rule.
The leader of the group, Bill Johnston, went onto hiding among the islands after the raid, becoming the legendary figure, "Pirate Bill Johnston." He was eventually captured, tried, and acquitted of all charges, ending his days as keeper of the Rock Island Lighthouse that overlooks the wreck of the A.E. Vickery. His legacy is celebrated yearly during a two-week festival every August in Alexandria Bay during the "Pirate Days" that bear his name.