Date Built: 1909
Builders: American Ship Building Co. at Lorain, OH Hull #369
Construction: Steel bulk freighter 1760 hp Owners: American Ship Building Company
Dimensions: 504 x 54 x 30'
6372 gross tons
Cargo: Coal

Condition: Discovered in 1976, upside down and half buried in mud.

Location: 6-7 mi NE of Thunder Bay Island

Depth: 180'

Date of Loss: November (9-10), 1913

GPS: N45 03.092 W83 02.353

Type of Loss: Foundered in great storm of 1913

Loss of Life: 28

Co-ordinates are informational only, they maybe inaccurate and should

The student of the ISAAC M. SCOTT noted that the careers of some vessels seem tailor-made to illustrate the hazards of lakes shipping, and the SCOTT was one of those when it foundered and sank in the Great Storm of 1913.

The steel-hulled propeller ISAAC M. SCOTT was built in Lorain, Ohio and launched in 1909. The Toledo Blade (July 3, 1909) called the new boat, "one of the handsomest of the large freighters on the great lakes." This was a period of rapid growth in the size of lake boats, and by May of the same year, the propeller Shenango became the largest vessel on the lakes measuring 607’.

The SCOTT made headlines soon again before it could complete her first round trip carrying 9,500 tons of coal. On July 12, 1909, while upbound from Milwaukee for the head of the lakes in a heavy fog, the SCOTT collided with and sank the propeller JOHN B. COWLE. Fourteen crewmembers aboard the COWLE were killed in the accident.

The ISAAC M. SCOTT goes down in maritime history as one of eleven vessels lost during the Great Storm of 1913, a storm described in the book, Lore of the Lakes, as "the most disastrous that has ever swept our Great Lakes, both from loss of life and property This "unprecedented" storm of high winds, heavy snow, and bitter cold took the lives of an estimated 235 mariners, 178 of which were lost on Lake Huron alone. On her final day, the vessel left Cleveland on or about November 7, 1913 with coal upbound for Milwaukee. The vessel departed Port Huron on November 9 and ran right into the path of a cyclonic storm measuring ninety-mile-per-hour winds. The gale reached its height on Lake Huron on the 9"’, when high winds from the northeast followed a lull that lured many vessels including the SCOTT out from sheltered harbors. The SCOTT was last sighted about 10:30 a.m. north of Tawas, Michigan, just hours before the brunt of the storm struck. Lake mariners at the time assumed that the SCOTT headed north or northeast into the storm. Sometime within 24-48 hours, the vessel foundered and sank with a loss of all 28 crewmen aboard.

Initial blame fell on the U.S. Weather Bureau for not predicting the ferocity of the gale, as well as lake ship-builders and shipping companies who had demanded and produced ever larger vessels to fulfill the needs of the iron ore and coal trades. The shipping companies were also blamed for the intense pressure they put on ship captains to meet their schedules.

The Lake Carriers Association later characterized the storm as a "freak of nature", a storm that raged for 16 hours with waves at least 35 feet high. Response to the storm and the sinking of the SCOTT resulted in the increased efforts by the Weather Bureau towards better weather forecasting and more rapid communications of storm warnings. Criticisms leveled against shipping companies and builders led to the construction of vessels with more longitudinal strength and greater stability.

In 1976, the ISSAC M. SCOTT was discovered in 176 feet of water about 6-7 miles off Thunder Bay Island. The SCOTT is reported to be upside down and half buried in the mud.

Sources: Bedford 2000; Hoagman 1999; NOAA 1999; Stonehouse 1992; Swayze 1999; McConnell; Kauffman; Barker