Black River Ghost Ship - Atlas Obscura

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Black River Ghost Ship

Lorain, Ohio

A former Canadian automobile ferry mysteriously appeared in the Black River 20 years ago, and now it quietly rusts away. 

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Underneath the Lofton Henderson Memorial Bridge on the banks of the Black River outside of Cleveland, lies a bit of a nautical mystery for the residents of Lorain, Ohio. Slowly sinking into the muddy water along the shore and listing to one side, rusting away a little more each season, is the “ghost ship,” a 90-foot long Canadian automobile ferry that mysteriously appeared docked under the bridge sometime around 2003.

Though rumors abound, no one in the city government has been able to locate the person who owns this beautiful piece of history, and so, for the last 20 years, the ship has remained where it dropped anchor all those years ago.

In peeling white paint across the ship’s bow, one can still read the name “Upper Canada,” and records exist of the ship being active from her construction in 1949 (under the name the “Romeo and Annette”) to the late 1990s in various ports in Canada. But no one has been able to locate her final owner.  

When the ship first appeared sometime around 2003, the Coast Guard inspected the ship to make sure that it did not pose any environmental issues, such as ensuring it wasn’t leaking oil or other hazardous chemicals.  Since that initial inspection back in the early 2000s, the boat has begun taking on water, which has led to gasoline and oil seeping into the Black River.

In January 2023, the Coast Guard put floating booms around the decrepit vessel to ensure that nothing floated out of the sinking hull to contaminate the river.

No one knows what will happen to the ship. But, for now, it serves as a decaying piece of maritime history that is well worth the walk to the top of the bridge in Lorain to view!

Know Before You Go

Parking is available in an empty lot below the approach to the Lofton Henderson Memorial Bridge. Sidewalks lining the bridge offer views of the ship below. Be careful; traffic here is plentiful and brisk. Plenty of overhead photographic opportunities can be had from the bridge above the ship as well as fantastic views of the Black River.

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August 31, 2023

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