7307 N. Alpine Road ~ Rockford / Loves Park, Illinois ~ 61111 815-633-6969
May 13th, 1985, the Kate Kelley sank in a blinding snow storm off of Windpoint Lighthouse in Racine, Wisconsin. The story goes that the Kate Kelley was on its' first run of the season, returning back to Chicago with a full load of cargo, when a blinding snowstorm and fierce winds hit the shores of Racine's Windpoint Lighthouse. The two mastered schooner was stranded on the north shoals for over 30 minutes. Once the Kate Kelley came off of the north shoals, it trudged half a mile south. One brave crew member in the rating put the flag upside down, a signal of distress. Four other crew men at the bilge pumps were trying frantically to remove water from the bilge of the sinking schooner. Then shortly there after, the Kate Kelley sank with the captain and the crew. All 7 men perished that day, sinking under 54 feet of water. The lighthouse keeper provided this information in his record book, found years later by Captain Dan Johnson. The Captain of the Kate Kelley, Hartley Hatch was a well seasoned Captain, well respected, and the vice president of the Sea Man's Association at his home port of Chicago. Hatch was also an inventor, creating many helpful inventions for the Kate Kelley; a small steam engine was installed onboard the schooner to help raise and lower the cargo, a propellor was used to bring the schooner in and out of ports so no tug was needed, as well as using a brass steam whistle on board as a signaling device for the crew and passing boats. When Captain Hartley Hatch sank with his seven crewmen and ship, he left behind his wife and five children waiting for their proud Captain father to return home.
In 1981, Captain Dan Johnson and Sam Mareci discovered the shipwreck deserted under 54 feet of water 86 years later. The artifacts are displayed to this day in the Lockwood Pioneer Scuba Diving Museum in Loves Park, Illinois. All artifacts in the museum are precious scuba diving discoveries, and the museum is opened by appointment only. Contact Captain Dan Johnson (815)-633-6969 to not only discover the Kate Kelley's tale, but may other shipwrecks and treasures.