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Purchase Guide: Conestoga Diver’s Guide

Dive Notes

Visibility: 10 feet
Depth: 28 feet (at stern)
Current: 1 knot
Entry: Shore entry, slightly downstream from the wreck. From entry follow dive line 25 metres to the wreck site.
Note: As with all shipwrecks in Ontario, Conestoga is property of the Province of Ontario. Removal of any material is illegal.
Please: Take only pictures; leave only bubbles

To the site:

From Ottawa, take River Road South to the intersection of Regional Road No. 22 (Shanley Road). Follow Road No. 22 south to Cardinal. Continue straight toward the river, follow the road past the Legion out onto the dirt road on the causeway approximately 1 km. You will see the engine protruding from the water. There is a parking area. Food and lodging can be found in Cardinal. Although the wooden portions of the Conestoga are still in good condition, the upper areas are badly ice damaged and all metal is rusted and deteriorating. Conestoga has suffered greatly from looting and wreck-stripping by sport divers. One blade of the 14-foot propeller was broken off by an exploding dynamite charge during an unsucessful salvage attempt.

The steamer Conestoga was built by Quale & Son of Cleveland for Anchor Line and launched July 6, 1878. A considerable amount of money, technical design and skill went into construction, as evidenced by the description in the Cleveland Daily Plain Dealer on July 8, 1878: “Fitted out in all proportions with a care to strength, durability and beauty … it is estimated that her cost will be near $90,000.00.”

Two hundred fifty-two feet long, sixteen feet deep with a gross tonnage of 1,226, Consetoga was powered by a steeple compound engine capable of a speed of 8 knots. The upper portion of the steeple engine protrudes above the river, marking the site.

She sank on May 22, 1922 outside Lock 28 of the Old Galop Canal, one mile east of Cardinal, Ontario. A fire broke out in the engine room while awaiting passage at the lock. The ship was flushed from the Lock and allowed to ground and sink in her present position. Loss was estimated at $200,000.00. She was carrying 30,000 bushels of wheat, much of which was salvaged.

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