Built by the J.B. Auger & Co. from parts made in Scotland, and launched in 1871 at Montreal, the Kinghorn was named after the manager of the Montreal Transportation Company, located in Kingston, Ontario, since it was built from his design, this barge had an iron frame and wooden planking, the first of its type on the river. The Kinghorn had a capacity of about 20,000 bushels of grain. April 27, 1897, the tug Hiram A Walker under Captain Boyd had seven barges under tow in the American channel near Thousand Island Park. She was caught in a storm losing barges on the south shore and 2 barges at Johnston’s light opposite the park. With four barges left the Walker headed for Grenadier Island where the Captain of the Kinghorn reported his craft leaking badly. The Walker headed for Rockport with the injured barge however lost her 1/2 mile from Rockport in 90 ft. of water, where she was discovered in 1996 by Ronald MacDonald. This wreck has sometimes been confused with the fishing tug Edith Sewell, and the “Rockport wreck.” Located directly in front of the Customs Office at Rockport, this vessel sits in 90 ft. of water in the middle of the small boat shipping channel. This wreck presents an excellent technical dive training opportunity with everything from current to finding bottles. Starting one’s dive from the shore, it takes about 12 minutes to reach the wreck, and you still get approximately 20 minutes to play before reaching deco. If you take the full 20 minutes and swim right back to dock, deco drills can be preformed at 20′ and 15′ stops. This is a local favorite dive.
The Kinghorn was a 130′ barge that was carrying wheat in the 1890s she was a steel hulled with wood planking and is situated just a couple hundred yards from the dock in Rockport, this wreck was refound in 1995 and is the source of much debate, some no longer believe it is really the Kinghorn and thoughts weigh that her true identity is the “Edith Surwell“. Well, at least it was until someone suggested the Surwell (or Cirtwell) was a fishing tug that has yet to be found, and that this particular wreck is the Sophia (which actually lies not far away). Who’s to say until a positive piece of her identifies this shipwreck!
The Dive Today – Need Help to See what’s left of the Kinghorn
This Video was taken 9 years later, note the huge difference we made.
Sitting upright in 88′ this is an aging steel hull with no superstructure. It has several openings on the upper deck (one reportedly from an anchor dropped a little too close to the target) so there is a good deal of light penetration into the hold which can be explored easily provided you have good fining technique (if you don’t you will be in the middle of a silt storm and other divers may finally have a use for the dive knives they have been carrying around for years). The upper deck is collapsing at a steady rate, and any penetration should be done with great caution if at all. Close to the down-line is a “Canadian” toilet, still in relatively good shape
(this item which was clearly not original, has since been removed). Plates and cups are scattered around the upper deck and inside the hold on the stove, many having reportedly been “returned” (read: planted) here (so if you take one thinking you have a genuine artifact, you are most likely sadly mistaken but other divers will take the opportunity to laugh at you, and then turn you over to the local constabularies since removing items from Ontario wrecks is illegal). Don’t miss the ship’s wheel lying on its side on top of the stern, then you can find the windlass, bilge pump, stove and rudder assembly which make for a decent amount to see. The wheel is now devoid of all its wood, but a sizeable portion of the steering gear is still attached and reaches nearly to the bottom of the hull. A small stove what was once on the deck, then in the hold, now appears to be missing entirely. Back to the mooring line and you will see 2 plaques one for the Kinghorn and one for Doug.