Pretoria (ship)

Pretoria, an American schooner barge, was one of the largest wooden ships ever constructed. She was 103 meters (338 ft) long, had a beam of 13.4 meters (44 ft), and 7 meters (23 ft) in depth. She was built by James Davidson in West Bay City, Michigan, for use on the Great Lakes.

Pretoria (schooner-barge) Shipwreck Site
Launching of Pretoria
Nearest cityBayfield, Wisconsin
Area47°05.36′N 90°23.66′W[1]
ArchitectDavidson, James
MPSGreat Lakes Shipwreck Sites of Wisconsin MPS
NRHP reference #94000835 [2]
Added to NRHPAugust 17, 1994

To strengthen her wooden frame and hull, Pretoria was constructed using steel keelson plates, steel chords, and steel arches. She also was strapped diagonally with steel. She needed a donkey engine to run a pump to keep her interior dry.

The Saginaw, Michigan newspaper "The Courier-Herald" described "Pretoria"'s launch on July 26, 1900 in the following way:

The schooner "Pretoria, the largest wooden boat ever built, was launched at Davidson's shipyard this afternoon, in the presence of a vast multitude.

The "Pretoria" will carry 5,000 tons of iron ore, 175,000 bushels of wheat, or 300,000 bushels of oats...

On 1 September 1905, Pretoria took on cargo at a pier in Superior, Wisconsin. Another notable ship, the lake freighter Sevona, took on cargo at the same pier shortly after Pretoria. Both ships sank the very next day near the Apostle Islands when a legendary gale sent them to the bottom of Lake Superior.[3][1]


  1. "Pretoria (1900)". Great Lakes Shipwrecks.
  2. "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 15, 2006.
  3. Keller, James H. The Unholy Apostles. pp. 107–112. ISBN 0-933577-001.
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