Allow me to give you some background on what I do and the region I am from. I work as a public safety diver for the local sheriff department. I recover anything and everything that goes into the water from airplanes and buses, to stolen firearms, jewelry, and cars to bodies of both people and pets. Outside of that job, I am an avid technical wreck diver. Us technical divers go far deeper than the average scuba diver. We have intense training, dive exotic gases (helium), and we run a much higher risk of something going catastrophically wrong. We cannot surface from 200ft as death and or something more debilitating will happen once we reach it. That means we are on our down there and carry everything we need on a single dive. We accept these risks as the deeper you go, the more pristine and intact the wreck becomes. There is no other feeling than being the first person to lay eyes on ship that has not been seen since she sank, and now you become part of her story.
The Great Lakes offers the best shipwreck diving anywhere in the world. The cold fresh waters preserves shipwrecks from the late 1600s all the way to to modern times. From wooden sailing ships that still look like they can sail away on the bottom, to massive steel freighters that you can’t believe were overwhelmed and sunk by a furious lake. The Great Lakes also has the highest concentration of shipwrecks per square mile than anywhere else in the world with an estimated 10,000 wrecks. That’s more than tenfold of what the legendary Bermuda Triangle holds and at less than 12th of the size. Lake Superior is the largest of the five lakes and also holds the title for deepest, coldest, and most isolated of all the others along with the fewest divable shipwrecks. The cold black waters holds many of her secrets and dead crewman as it is too cold for natural processes to bring them back up. As you can imagine many of these wrecks still hold their crew inside the hulls on eternal watch.
One such wreck is the steel package freighter the Kamloops. The Kamloops lies in on of North Americas most isolated regions… Isle Royale National Park. Isle Royale is seperated from the mainland by 50 miles of cold freshwater. Isle Royale is a lake divers dream as Lake Superior has yet to be ravaged by invasive species such as the zebra mussels that infest the 4 other lakes, which makes Isle Royale the most contended place to dive in the region. We leave Wendigo harbor and begin the 12 mile journey to the Kamloops. The Kamloops is Isle Royale’s deepest known wreck at a depth of 270ft. The day is covered by a thick fog which is caused by the cold 37° water and the warm air. This effect lasts from April to July and never lifts on calm days. This makes ambient light down at depth almost non existant. We use a mixture of helium and oxygen to allow us to have clearer heads as regular air becomes posionous below 200ft. The wreck lies less than 200 yards from shore and I am the first one in. As I begin my descent, I quickly begin to lose daylight, and at 100ft it is pitch black, but visibilty is great so I continue another 85ft down before I hit the stern rail. Upon reaching the stern I drop my stage bottles that contain my deco gases and my plan today was to penetrate the engine room, crew quarters, and the galley before turning around and heading back the way I came. I had heard that the body of the chief engineer that resides in the engine room had his head knocked off by an errant diver who did not know proper finning technique.
The Kamloops disappeared in a horrific gale in December of 1927 killing all 22 men and woman aboard. The Kamloops was a floating general store as she carried everything from farm equipment and cars, to whisky and even lifesavers candy… I know how ironic.
From what is known is that at least a dozen made it ashore after surviving their harrowing escape from the sinking vessel only to die on the island. The Kamloops is thought to have ran aground on the rocky bluffs as some crewman and the 2 women jumped onto shore. As preparations were made to gather what they could to survive the ship suddenly slid off the rocks and into deep water taking a sizable portion of the crew with her leaving 8-12 stranded survivors to starve to death out in the snow. Isle Royale is completely uninhabited in the winter as event he lighthouse keepers go back to the mainland leaving the shipwrecked survivors to their fate. Some were taken by wolves, others died from frostbite and hypothermia. The last person believed to have been alive was the female cook who starved to death in April of 1928. The bodies were found in mid May and the heart wrenching note was clutched in her hands.
With this in mind I begin my entry into the engine room skylight. Once inside my light hits the headless body of the chief engineer floating neutrally bouyant near the boilers. I swim pass him and say a prayer for him in my head as I head for the hallway. I get the feeling that he does not want in his ship today, but dammit I got a dive to do and I press on. As I begin my penetration I do a quick turn around and I see the headless body a few feet away from me. He had moved about 15ft from where he was when I first entered. A chill ran up my spine but I shrugged it off as he was kinda floating. I make my way down the hall another 20ft when I find the crews quarters. Shining my light inside I see another crew member and his blue coveralls laying on the floor near the bunk. Feeling the tragedy of this site, I say another prayer for him and think what he went through in his final moments. I get a very strange feeling that I cannot describe as I have never felt this way before. I do a quick turnaround from the way I came to see if I kicked up any silt during my penetration through the wreck hoping that it was still clear for me to exit back the way I came. I turn and my light again lands on the headless corpse less than 5ft away from me. Now I start to feel the panic rise up in me. This isn’t right, I deal with bodies on a regular basis but they do not follow me around on a wreck! Rational thinking leaves and true fear starts to well up inside me. My breathing rate picks up and I cannot get over the fact that I have a headless corpse following me around the wreck. This is exactly what your not supposed to do at 200ft. I know full well that a dead body isn’t going to hurt me, but I cannot bring myself to swim past him through the narrow hallway where I would certainly run against him.
I decide that I will try and find an exit in galley. I’m not 100% there is one, but I’m going for broke and I head my panicking rear down the hallway and into the galley. Because I lost my composure, I’m starting to kick up silt behind me, so there is no going back. My Prayers were answered as I found empty windows and door frames to exit the wreck. I squeeze through the narrow opening and haul my scared ass out there. I turn around one last time and shine my light down into the silty galley where I see the headless body floating near the window. I shout through my regulator at him ” well you bastard you ruined my dive and made me lose my composure, you made your point now let me get the hell out of here!” I swim back to where I dropped my deco stage bottles and began my long ascent back up. I regained control of my breathing and heart rate and saw that I burned through more gas than I was comfortable with. I had the 4 other divers pass me on their way down to the wreck and I wrote on my slate to stay out of the wreck. They must have heeded my advice as they saw my eyes wide as a tea saucer and that I was trembling. Not from the 37° water but from fear. I was so happy to reach the boat. Technical divers usually dive alone because a buddy is more of realibilty than an asset and they cannot help much if something goes wrong at depth. I was really hoping to be with someone the next day though.
The next day and after a weird night of bizarre dreams, a warm southern wind came and blew the fog away showing then island in all her glory with calm sheltered seas and added to a bright sunny day and made the ominous feeling I got yesterday. I decided that in would break my rule and dive with a buddy this time. I once again began my descent into the colbolt blue waters of Lake Superior, and unlike yesterday I had daylight down on the wreck today. I decided today that we needed to put the engineer back into his engine room and make amends for yesterday. This time we entered the galley and sure enough there was the headless body. I swam towards him and gently grabbed his arms and we proceeded to swim down the hallway towards the engine room. It was technique I am proficient at as this is similar to what I do when recovering a victim. Once by the boilers we stop swimming and I let him go. I swim out of the skylight and turn around, and this time he stayed right where I left him. I have dove the wreck once afterward and plan on returning again in the future. But I know now that if my gut is telling me that the engineer doesn’t want me in his boat, I’m damn sure going to heed it.
What I believe happened, was that as I swimming through the wreck, the body got caught into the wake I was making. This caused the neutrally buoyant body to follow me around the wreck. When the next day came I was more careful with my finning and this did not cause a wake. So not exactly paranormal, but creepy as hell though. For anyone interested in seeing this wreck. We posted a video on YouTube (without showing the body) called Kamloops shipwreck. There is also a nice Wikipedia page on her as well if you care to check it out. It’s under SS Kamloops.
Thank you all for giving me your time.
PS, I know that your channel has a special affinity for Wendigos. Is there any connection between that monster and the name of Wendigo harbor. I know there some weird stories from that island so maybe you can do some research for me. Thanks!