L. R. Doty

The L. R. Doty at the Soo Locks

The LR Doty was an American cargo ship that went down on October 25, 1898 during a storm on Lake Michigan. She was last seen north of Milwaukee (Wisconsin ). The ship dragged the passenger ship Olive Jeanette, until the tow rope broke by the strength of the storm and lost both ships out of sight. In this case, all 17 crew members were killed. It is suspected that the vessel was overloaded and therefore had a high draft.

On 25 June 2010 the L. R. Doty was found in about 91 m in Lake Michigan. The grain charge was still present.

The ship

The Doty was built in 1893 in West Bay City ( Michigan) in the shipyard FW Wheeler & Co. built for the Cuyahoga Transit Company and carried the hull number 97 It was after the Director General of the Cuyahoga Transit Company, Lucius Ramsey Doty, named. The Doty was almost identical to her sister ships William F. Sauber, CF Bielman, Tampa, Iosco and Uganda. For the construction of the 89 m long Doty the wood of the white oak was used. The depth was 6 m and the maximum load was 2,089 tons.

She had nine deck hatches, a 12.50 m high mast front and two rear masts, the sails could be set as required. For the stabilization of the wooden body it has been reinforced at the sides of steel sheets. In May 1893 was first launched.

The storm

At the time of Doty there was no weather radar. In the fall there was the greatest incentive to leak because increasingly used coal for the winter months and the harvested grain had to be sent for processing. The Doty had survived for a ship of its time, many severe storms on the Great Lakes, as it was built to last.

On 24 October 1898, she sailed to the south of Lake Michigan from Chicago going with a cargo of 107,000 bushels. After the grain was unloaded, the Doty should together with the Olive Jeanette for a supply of iron ore on Lake Superior toward Cleveland. The route would take them from Lake Michigan on the Mackinacstraße to Lake Huron, where they would unload their cargo in Midland ( Ontario).

The two ships left in calm sea weather to Wisconsin. On 25 October, the lake ( EDT) began to be restless about 13 clock. From about 16 clock severe snow and freezing rain, the view and the waves reached a height of about 6 m. At 17 clock, the Doty and Olive Jeanette were north of Milwaukee and had weathered the storm unscathed, until finally ripped the tow with which the Olive Jeanette was drawn. The captain of the Olive Jeanette reported that Doty then drove further north, until they had lost sight of.

There were no clues to the whereabouts of Doty until the tractor Prodigy on October 26, some 40 km off the coast of Kenosha on the water surface floating debris found, including a hatch cover and a cabin door that were similar painted brown, like that of Doty.

The storm in October 1898 was by all accounts one of the worst storms in 30 years. In Milwaukee, the schooner Barbarian was driven to a breakwater and destroyed. On the Great Lakes fell in this storm a number of boats and promenade of Chicago was destroyed.


After the tow was torn and there was no visual contact between the two ships, the Doty tried to turn presumably to look for the Olive Jeanette. In this case, the ship ran transversely to the wind, which was combined with the high waves on the broadside of the ship and brought it to capsize. No one saw capsize, which proves that they fell within a few hours after it was separated from the Olive Jeanette, the Doty.

The Doty was with her bow in a northwesterly direction found, suggesting that they are in trying hard to turn back on board, capsized.


In the following years after the Doty was missing, faded her story to one of the many thousands of destroyed ships on the Great Lakes in the 19th century. End of the 1890s it was believed to have found the wreck of the Doty about 2 kilometers east of Racine, it turned it out, however, that it had merely acted to a previously unknown coral reef.

With the advent of scuba diving in the early 1960 again increased the interest in finding the shipwrecks in the Great Lakes. Between the 1970s and 1990s, I repeatedly came up on rumors of the discovery of the Doty in shallow waters near Kenosha. This was, however, the wreck of a modern Kahn.

In August 1991, the fishing boat Butchie B. sat fishing nets to catch ruffs and got tangled up in something. The captain radioed to a any nearby dive boat with a request to expose the nets again. It was located about 36 km off the coast of Kenosha and had left the nets almost 90 meters deep. The captain of the dive boat was indeed interested in the site, but had no intention to bring divers there, because it was not secure enough in the early 1990s to dive for deep wrecks. The network was then separated from the ship and allowed to sink to the bottom.

In June 2010, a small group of researchers and divers finally started looking after Doty. After evaluation of the sonar scan turned out that the wreck is about 61 m long. After a rope was attached to the wreck on June 25, the divers began their dive to the wreck, which was finally identified as Doty.