This wreck lies in 160 feet of water. It is beyond the limits of sport diving as defined by all major certifying agencies. It should only be attempted by very experienced divers with specialized training for depths in excess of sport diving limits.
The Oxford rests on a mud bottom with her masts reasonably intact. Her large tiller is another prominent feature of the wreck and before her identity was known she was called the Tiller Wreck. Although there is no crows nest, she was also referred to as the Crows Nest, probably due to the crosstree on her forward mast. Owing in part to her depth, the ship is remarkably preserved. While there is damage at the starboard bow from the collision that sunk her, her two large anchors sit prominently on the bow. Moving to toward the stern, her windlass, bilge pumps, offset centerboard, and rigging winch are sitting in place, ready for use, as though she might one day sail again.
Official #: none
Location: 25ºT 24.7 miles off Erie Pennsylvania harbor entrance
Coordinates: Loran: 44558.7 58671.7 GPS: 42 28.85579 51.843
Lies: southeast/northwest Depth: 160 feet
Type: two masted brig Cargo: iron ore
Owner(s) Hoag Strong and Company of Cleveland, Ohio
Built: 1842 at Three Mile Bay, New York by A. Copley
Dimensions: 114’ x 24’ x 9’ Tonnage: 254
Date of Loss: Friday, May 30, 1856
OXFORD Brig, and Propeller CATARACT collided off Long Point, the former sunk in deep water, five lives lost, damage to latter $100.
Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
January 31, 1857 (1856 casualty list)
. . . . .
COLLISION—FIVE LIVES LOST—BRIG SUNK. – The propeller CATARACT, Capt. Hunt, of the American Transportation Company’s line, bound from Toledo to this port with a cargo of flour and provisions came in collision on Friday morning, about 2 o’clock, off Long Point, with the brig OXFORD, Capt. Lee, bound fron Ogdensburgh to Toledo with a cargo of 300 tons of iron ore.
The propeller struck the brig on the starboard side, just abaft the foremast, cutting her to the water’s edge and causing her to sink in about three minutes. The Captain, his wife, mate and two seamen went down with her. Three seamen out of the whole number were saved.
The following is a list of the lost and saved as far as we have been able to ascertain:
Lost—Capt. John Lee and wife, Oswego; mate Angus —-, Oswego; J. McDonald, seaman, Long Island; and one other, name unknown. Saved—Michael McGinnis, Kingston; James Hull, Kingston; Henry Anderson, Prescott, Canada, all seamen.
The propeller arrived in port about Friday night, not having sustained any material damage. The Captain’s wife was a daughter of Mr. Steele of French Creek. We are indebted to Capt. Bagnall for the above particulars.
Buffalo Daily Courier
June 2, 1856
The Coast Wrecking stmr. RESCUE, Capt. Cotton, arrived at this port Wednesday night from Port Huron with a quantity of freight just recovered from the prop. WABASH, lost over a year ago off Lexington….The RESCUE left here this morning to visit and recover if possible a number of wrecks sunk in Lake Erie, among them the schr. QUICKSTEP at Long Pt. Cut and W.S. KEITH there also; the prop. TONAWANDA, which was sunk off Buffalo last fall; the prop. ACME off Dunkirk; the schr. SARAH E. HUDSON (new) off Pt. Abino, and the brig OXFORD, with a cargo of railroad iron sunk near Mohawk Island by collision with the prop. SPAULDING. – Detroit Tribune
Buffalo Morning Express
July 24, 1871
WRECKING. – The wrecking steamer RESCUE, which left Detroit on Thursday, will visit, and if possible, recover a number of wrecks sunk in Lake Erie, among which may be mentioned the schooners W. S. KEITH and QUICKSTEP, at Long Point Cut; also the propeller TONAWANDA, which was sunk off Buffalo last fall; the propeller ACME off Dunkirk, the schooner SARAH E. HUDSON, off Point Abino, and the brig OXFORD, with a cargo of railroad iron, sunk near Neward Island, by a collision with the propeller SPAULDING.
Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
July 22, 1871