One of Michigan's most visible shipwrecks is the Francisco Morazan, resting about 300 yards off the southern coast of South Manitou Island, about an hour northwest of Traverse City.

This German cargo ship was 234 feet long and built in 1922 as the 'Arcadia'. The ship's name went under more changes: 'Elbing' (1934), 'Empire Congress' (1945), 'Brunes' (1946), 'Skuld' (1947), 'Ringas' (1948), 'Los Mayas' (1958) and finally the 'Francisco Morazan' in 1958.

In October 1960, the ship's last voyage began in Miami, up through Toronto and into the Great Lakes to Chicago. It left Chicago on November 28 and ran into fog that evening. Later that night, a snowstorm kicked in, snowblinding the crew, causing the ship to run aground just off South Manitou Island, where it remains to this day as state property as shown in the photos below.

The National Parks Service maintains an information page on the shipwreck on the Sleeping Bear Dunes website and explains why the wreckage remains in Lake Michigan's shallow waters abandoned off the South Manitou coast.

The owners of the Francisco Morazan could never be found and nothing was done about removing the ship. It is now home to cormorants and gulls.

The wreckage is now legally owned by the state of Michigan and part of the Manitou Passage Underwater Preserve which has oversite of several diving sites and shipwrecks in the historic shipping channel.

To visit by land and observe the wreck, can take a 2.5 mile hike from the village on the island and view it from shore.

Video Tours of the Shipwreck

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