The Northern Light was a Great Lakes steam freighter built in 1888. It was 300’ in length with a 40’ beam. The Northern Light is also somewhat unique in that it used a three-phase steam engine that produced 240 horsepower. These engines were developed near the end of the steam era. In 1927, the owner attempted to commit insurance fraud by setting fire to the ship, badly damaging it. It was then cut down and converted into a barge. In 1930, the Northern Light broke into two parts and sank off Key Largo.
Its exact position was not known until 1989 when a group of local divers positively identified the site, previously known as the "Elbow Wreck," as that of the Northern Light. The wreck lies in two parts in 190’ of water. The bow is upright in the sand with its anchor hanging on the starboard side, still secured by its chain to the winch. Aft of this is a cargo hold full of modern anchors left by fishermen unable to retrieve them after having set them into the wreck. Further aft is the stern of the ship upside-down on top of the midships; the rudder, turned hard to starboard, is within 145’ of the surface. Penetration is easily conducted on this wreck, as divers can enter on one side, swim aft of the boilers were they encounter a sand dune, and then turn to head back out on the other side passing the large boilers. Portholes with glass intact, still adorn the hull of the wreck on either side. Seldom visited, the wreck has developed a good amount of coral growth and attracted numerous fish and other sea life in the 70+ years since her sinking.