This Tranquil Idaho Lake Is Hiding a Surprising Number of Haunting Shipwrecks
While Idaho, more specifically Lewiston, is home to the farthest inland seaport on the west coast, most people view the state as totally landlocked. That’s why our state is one of the last places you’d expect to find dozens of Titanic-esque shipwrecks.
Last February, we had the pleasure of getting cozy on one of CDA Cruises’s “Hot Cocoa Cruises.” January-March, the scenic cruises set sail from The Coeur d’Alene Resort and treat guests to scenic views of Northern Idaho’s second largest lake. With a hot chocolate topping bar for the kids and an option for adults to order spiked hot cocoa/other warm adult beverages, we thought this cruise would be for relaxation only.
We couldn’t be more wrong. While you’re sipping on your cocoa and taking in the views of phenomenal luxury homes scattered along the shoreline of Lake Coeur d’Alene, the tour guide gives you an in-depth history lesson about the lake you likely hadn’t heard about before. Before jet skis, ski boats and pontoons zipped across the water, Lake Coeur d’Alene had a rich steamboat history that can be traced back to the 1800s.
Our guide explained that dozens of the old steamboats that were used for entertaining tourists or moving equipment/products for the mining and timber industries sank and were still beneath the water we were floating on.
At first, that made us a little uneasy until he explained that most of the boats were sunk on purpose. As the boats started to wear out, any valuable parts that could be reused were stripped and then the boats were sunk to get rid of them quickly.
For that reason, there's a significant number of mostly intact boats laying along the bottom of the lake, making it a very popular destination for scuba divers in Idaho. A few of the enthusiastic divers have recorded their dives and shared videos of the closest thing to the Titanic wreckage you can find in Idaho! Take a look at some of these cool boats that are still hiding in Lake Coeur d'Alene.
YouTube user, Bryan Lehrman, explained that his dad originally came across the "Sandstar" wreckage in the late 1980s. The pair went back to see if they could find it again in August 2020.
Not to be confused with the Eagle Watching cruises that CDA Cruises offer in December and January, this boat's name was "Eagle." YouTube user Allen Worst, shared this crystal clear video from his 2010 dive to the wreckage near Tubbs Hill. His video also includes some vintage photographs of the ship before it sank for comparison!
According to the Spokesman-Review, the "Seeweewana" ended up on the bottom of the lake as a result of one of the planned sinkings we mentioned earlier. Neither the City of Coeur d'Alene nor the Museum of North Idaho wanted it, so the 65-passenger ship was sunk in front of an audience in 1988. This vintage postcard shows what the lake cruiser was like in its prime.
Worst visited the wreckage in 2010 and his footage was picked up by Scuba Diving Magazine. YouTube user, Mutt2Jeff, visited in October 2011 and decided to carve a Jack O'Lantern while on the ship. We've got to say, we're impressed that he did a better job underwater than we do on dry land!
The Georgie Oakes
We're not sure exactly which year the Georgie Oakes sunk, but according to CDA Cruises the steamboat was in commission from 1881-1920. This vintage postcard gives you a somewhat grainy illustration of what the 1,000-passenger boat looked like while it was at its best!
Lehrman took a dive to see what's left of it in 2018 and after all these years, the answer is surprising a lot of it!
We couldn't find much about The Harrison beyond Lehrman's 2015 dive to it. He shared with a YouTube commenter that it's actually visible from the surface. If we had to guess, it was probably named after Harrison, ID which was once a stopping point for steamboats along their route.
Worst also took a dive into this old tug boat in 2010. It's about 140' beneath the service between Arrow Point and Silver Beach. Toward the end of the video, he discovers another wreck but couldn't identify what it was.
This is just a handful of the wreckage sites below Lake Coeur D'Alene. If you search YouTube, you'll find plenty more dive videos from Northern Idaho. Worst and Lehrman have some of the best!