SS Appomattox

Milwaukee's Best Shore Dive

The S.S. Appomattox was one of the largest wooden ships ever built for the Great Lakes. Constructed in 1896 by James Davidson of West Bay City, Michigan, the Appomattox was 319 feet long with a 42-foot beam. Appomattox generally carried iron ore on her eastward voyages and coal on her westward voyages. She could carry as much as 3000 tons of cargo. In 1905, Appomattox ran aground off of Shorewood, Wisconsin. Despite two weeks of effort, she eventually broke up and the crew was forced to abandon her.

Divers can expect to see lake perch, largemouth bass, brown trout, and even the occasional lake sturgeon on the wreck. The wreck itself is spread over a large area. Divers can locate the wreck by taking a straight easterly heading from the north side of the northernmost jetty off the park.

Visibility can range from 0 to 30+ feet. Wave action of any kind can drop visibility quickly, and it is difficult to judge visibility from the surface as conditions on the bottom can vary considerably from that on the surface.

Maximum depth: 30 feet
Average depth: 15 feet
Moorings: Midship
Skill level: Beginner to Intermediate

Special considerations: Divers can access the Appomattox from a boat or from shore off from Atwater Beach in Shorewood. Shore entries are definitely reserved for divers who are in excellent shape, as the five-story trek up and down the stairway from the park to the beach is extremely physically demanding. A path has been recently constructed to allow carts to be used to get to and from the beach, but the trek to the beach remains difficult. In addition, the wreck lies approximately 300 yards from shore, making the swim to the wreck challenging as well.

Regardless of how you get to the wreck, divers are always advised to check on water conditions as most wave action can reduce visibility at this site. A calm period of 2 or more days is often required for visibility to improve once the bottom is disturbed.