Wreck of the Francisco Morazan – Leland, Michigan - Atlas Obscura

Wreck of the Francisco Morazan

The rusted remains of an ill-fated freighter lie just off the coast of South Manitou Island in Lake Michigan. 


A short distance off the southwest coast of South Manitou Island lie the weathered remains of the SS Francisco Morazan. First launched in June of 1922, the steel-hulled Liberian freighter was trying to sail from Chicago to the Netherlands by way of the St. Lawrence Seaway in late November of 1960. Unfortunately for the ship and its crew, Lake Michigan and Mother Nature had other ideas in mind.

On November 28, the freighter was buffeted by northwesterly 40-mile-per-hour winds and snow. It ran aground just off South Manitou Island, which today is part of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The captain, his family, and the 14-person crew were successfully rescued, but the ship eventually succumbed to the rough lake waters and weather. The rusted hull of the Morazan remains there today, easily visible from the island. The wreckage is largely occupied by seabirds and is explored by divers during warmer weather. 

In an intriguing twist of fate, the Francisco Morazan was originally christened the Arcadia, and it sank a mere 40 miles north of Arcadia Dunes and the village of Arcadia, Michigan.   

Know Before You Go

Seasonal ferry service is available from Leland, Michigan to South Manitou Island. A hike across a portion of the island is necessary to reach viewing location(s). The South Manitou Lighthouse is also located on the island. Visitors must have a national park pass or permit.

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