On October 31, 1929, just two days after “Black Tuesday”, the SS Senator left Kenosha with a crew of 28 men. I imagine the crew probably had a lot on their mind. The recent stock market crash that sent the economy into a Kamikaze nosedive, or the 2 ships that had already sank earlier that week.
The SS Milwaukee, which sank on Oct. 22 taking all 52 of its crew with her, and the SS Wisconsin which sank on Oct. 29 – castings 18 souls to an early underwater grave.
It was 10:20 pm and Lake Michigan was snuggled in a thick blanket of fog as the Senator sailed across it at full speed. Only being able to see 100 feet through the cotton candy dense mist, the Senator heard a fog signal of another ship near by. It was a steel bulk carrier named the SS Marquette, and she was carrying 7,000 tons of iron on her way to Indiana harbor.
The two ships would meet in a crash when the Marquette ran into the Senator on her port side. The distress signal echoed over the radio waves, “SOS; collided with SS Marquette 20 miles east of Port Washington; sinking fast!” Icy cold water rushes into the empty spaces of the Senator.
480 seconds, just 8 minutes, and the SS Senator vanished into the depths beneath surface and floated gently down to her final resting place – with 10 crew members for company.
Why This is Important?
What makes this story worth mentioning on an automotive site is what the SS Senator was carrying that night, $251,000 worth of brand new cars!
A shipwreck that doubles as the world’s largest collection of 1929-1930 model Nash Motor automobiles. An underwater collection of 260 cars that never made it to the showroom.
Nash Motors, founded by former General Motors president Charles W. Nash, was a Wisconsin-based automaker. They built cars for the successful man who couldn’t afford a Cadillac or Packard, but made too much money for a Chevrolet or Ford.
If you’re not familiar with this auto brand then you might know it by its other name, American Motors Corporation (AMC), which was adopted in 1954 during a restructuring phrase in the company.
Back to the shipwreck, the SS Senator is currently resting comfortably 450 feet down at the bottom of Lake Michigan. The Nash cars sit quietly in the dark, lined up in rows of three inside the ship.
What Will Happen to These Cars?
I doubt anyone will spare the expense of getting these cars out from the bottom of the lake, so they will have to stay there and wait for rust to take them.
Tamara Thomsen, a maritime archaeologist and shipwreck diver with the Wisconsin Historical Society, who surveyed the Senator wreck in November said that the cars are, “in pretty good condition”, considering where they are.
For more details on the story, go to mlive.com
Not the first shipload of cars to go to Davey Jones Locker. A shipload of Rollin’s made that trip (one was rescued sometime back in the 70’s but I don’t know what became of it. I think there is a load of Chrysler products at the bottom near Evansville, Indiana and there are probably others!