SS Appomattox

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APPOMATTOX (Shipwreck)
U.S. National Register of Historic Places
Nearest city: Shorewood, Wisconsin
Coordinates: 43°5′37.09″N 87°51′58.35″W / 43.0936361°N 87.8662083°W / 43.0936361; -87.8662083Coordinates: 43°5′37.09″N 87°51′58.35″W / 43.0936361°N 87.8662083°W / 43.0936361; -87.8662083
Architect: Davidson, James
Governing body: State
Added to NRHP: January 20, 2005
NRHP Reference#: 04001547 [1]

The SS Appomattox was an American bulk cargo steamship and one of the largest wooden ships ever built.

Appomattox had a length of 319 feet (97.2 m) and a beam of 42 feet (12.8 m).[2][3] She was built in 1896 by James Davidson of West Bay City, Michigan and was fitted with a triple expansion steam engine.

Because of her immense length, Appomattox used metallic cross bracing , a metallic keelson, metallic plates, and multiple metallic arches. Several syphons and steam-driven pumps were required to keep Appomattox afloat.[4]

Appomattox operated mainly on the Great Lakes, carrying iron ore on her eastward voyages, and then returning westward with coal. The ship usually towed the steamer barge Santiago, which had a length of 324 feet (98.8 m), to increase the amount of cargo carried each trip.

Appomattox alone could carry more than 3000 tons of bulk cargo, and in combination with the Santiago, the pair had a capacity approaching 8000 tons.

Appomattox went aground in smoke and fog on the Wisconsin coast of Lake Michigan, near Milwaukee in 1905. Crews worked for two weeks in an effort to free the ship, but eventually it broke up, and was abandoned.[4] The wreck site is on the National Register of Historic Places, and is a popular site for divers, being close to shore and in shallow waters.


  1. "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2006-03-15. 
  2. Vessel Detail Information for: Appomattox (1896), Wisconsin's Maritime Trails website.
  3. The "Door County Advocate" published an article on August 8, 1896 on page 5 in which it listed the beam as 43 feet, or about 13.1 meters.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Wisconsin's Great Lakes Shipwrecks: Appomattox University of Wisconsin–Madison Sea Grant Institute and Wisconsin Historical Society, 2003