Wreckage of doomed steamer “Phoenix” found off Sheboygan, 175 years after tragedy

Smokestack from the steamer "Phoenix" which sank en route to Sheboygan on Nov. 21, 1847
Smokestack from the steamer "Phoenix" which sank en route to Sheboygan on Nov. 21, 1847(Wisconsin Historical Society)
Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 3:51 PM CST
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SHEBOYGAN, Wis. (WBAY) - The Wisconsin Maritime Museum announced the discovery of wreckage from the “Phoenix” off Sheboygan, on the 175th anniversary of the doomed steamer’s sinking when as many as 300 people perished. There were some survivors.

The “Phoenix” was carrying between 200 and 300 crew and passengers, nearly all Dutch immigrants, to Sheboygan on Nov. 21, 1847, when overheated boilers caused a fire. The fire spread quickly and the ship sank, but no one was sure where.

The museum says in late July, shipwreck hunter Steve Radovan was taking part in the filming of a documentary by Omroep Gelderland, a journalism group from the Netherlands, when they found a smokestack in 85 feet of water off Sheboygan.

Wisconsin Maritime Museum staff and underwater archeologists from the Wisconsin Historical Society confirmed the smokestack was part of the “Phoenix.”

On Monday, Omroep Gelderland released a five-part podcast series, “De Ramp met de Phoenix,” on Spotify, Apple podcasts, and Google podcasts, to coincide with the anniversary of the tragedy.

The Wisconsin Maritime Museum’s display in Manitowoc includes a bible printed in Amsterdam in 1693, a personal artifact that washed ashore after the “Phoenix” sank.