Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Lake Superior -- The Shipwreck Coast

Yesterday I had a nice chat with Bruce Erickson. He grew up in Grand Marais and now splits his time between here and Kohler, WI. He told me that there is more of the shipwrecks east of town exposed. I headed out there last night to get some pictures.

I did some research this morning to find out more about the shipwrecks. There were 3 ships that went down in a storm on November 19, 1914. Here are some articles about the wrecks:

Seney, Mich., Nov. 21. -- Life savers reported today that a total of 12 bodies have been found on the south shore of Lake Superior during the 35 hours' search which followed the fearful gale that swept the lake Thursday. The four bodies found since the searchers previously reported were all of men. The two corpses of women have been unidentified. Among the wreckage cast ashore today were several life belts stenciled "Steamer Curtis." As no trace of the steamer C. F. Curtis was been obtained and as it is considered certain that one of her schooners, the Annie M. Peterson, sank near Grand Marais, local marine men believe the Curtis also went to the bottom. It is also claimed there were only seven persons on board the Peterson. The Curtis was known to have been to wing the schooners Peterson and S. E. Marvin when the gale struck her. No wreckage of the Marvin has been found so far as searchers in this vicinity have been able to learn.

Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., Nov. 21. -- Up to a late hour today, the last 24 hours had revealed little information to clear up the mystery surrounding the fate of the steamer C. F. Curtis and the lumber laden schooners S. E. Marvin and Annie M. Peterson in tow of the Curtis, which were caught Thursday in the season's most severe storm on Lake Superior. That the Peterson went down in "the grave yard of the Great Lakes" near Grand Marais, seems absolutely certain in view of her bodies and wreckage which have been washed ashore. Two of the eight bodies recovered last night were identified today as members of the Peterson's crew. Whether some of the other bodies were from the Curtis or Marvin remained to be determined after identification had been made. The three missing vessels carried 26 persons in their combined crews. The fact that two of the bodies recovered were those of unidentified women caused many to believe the Curtis met the same fate as the Peterson inasmuch as it was thought one or both of women had been employed on that vessel. The sailing records did not reveal any women hands on the two schooners. The three ships cleared from Baraga with lumber for North Tonawanda, N.Y. Wednesday morning. They should have passed this port long ago, but were not heard from until the Peterson wreckage was found yesterday. None of the several other steamers which went aground along the upper lakes during the gale was seriously damaged according to reports today.

There were 3 sections of wreck exposed on the beach. The longest section is at least 100 foot in length. The C.F. Curtis propeller schooner was built in 1882 in Marine City, MI. She was 197 foot in length. The Selden E. Marvin was built in 1881 in Toledo, Ohio. She was 175 feet in length. The Annie F Peterson was built in Green Bay WI in 1874. She was 191 feet in length. It is unclear if the sections of wreckage are from one of these ships, or from multiple.

First, here is a photo of an 1871 schooner that may have resembled the ships that went down in the 1914 storm.

The west most wreckage is shown below.

This is a shot of the middle section of wreckage that I took in December 2004. At that time, the other sections of wreckage were not exposed.

That same wreckage, as you can see, has broken up and been buried in sand since 2004.

The east section of wreckage is mostly buried in sand.

Every once in a while when walking on the beach you see these globs of clay.  Most likely the waves of Lake Superior dislodged the clay from the bluff.  The waves then rounded it off.

This seagull was scavenging on the beach.

The sunset when I was walking back to my car.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting these pictures along with the information. My great-grandfather was the captain of the Marvin E. Seldon and I was searching for information about the wreck. I didn't know that new wreckage was still being uncovered so recently!