Last seen off 40 Mile Point in northern Lake Huron, the 308’ Clifton was reported to be taking on water over her decks, but “making good weather of it”. Capt. Cunning and the crew of the Tug Favorite became the last people to see the Steamer Clifton as she sailed into oblivion, and into Great Lakes history.
When the Clifton became overdue, a massive search including the use of airplanes, was launched. It would be several days before the first evidence of the Clifton loss was found. The mystery expanded as debris was located from Alpena, Michigan to Goderich, Ontario…….thousands of square miles of Lake Huron. Where is the “needle in the haystack”?
In 2002, Undersea Research Associates began the search off Alpena hoping to learn the fate of the Clifton and her crew. It would be 14 years and thousands of survey hours before the target appeared that would lead to solving the mystery, the mystery of where and what happened to Capt. Gallagher, the crew and the Steamer Clifton.
Alexander McDougall’s whaleback boats were unique in the annals of Great Lakes boat design. They were very seaworthy, shaped like a cigar with curved sides to allow the waves to roll over vessels. Forty two were built and one, the Meteor, remained in service through 1969.
Share the excitement of locating one of the Great Lakes greatest missing ships, and the excitement of exploring and solving the mystery of the lost Clifton and her crew of 28 men and women.
David Trotter searched three decades to find the S.S. Clifton and discovered it in September 2016.