Monday, September 26, 2011

Au Sable Days -- Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore -- Post 1

This past Saturday staff at the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore held Au Sable Days at the lighthouse. I had to work the museum, so my sister, Diana, and friend, Jill, went to the event. At my request, Diana took pictures for this blog. One of the things Di and I do when we are together is to take photographs. She is more than willing and able to help take pictures, especially when I had to stay behind.  Thanks, Di, for the help!

First is a shot she took while driving into Grand Marais the other night. Those of you who have driven M77 during fall colors know this curve, located around 12 miles south of town.

Although it was not supposed to be windy, Lake Superior was kicking up her heels as Diana and Jill walked down the beach to check out the shipwrecks.

The sandstone in our area comes from two main eras of time.  Pictured below is my favorite -- Jacobsville sandstone.  It is around a billion years old, which is twice as old as most of the more plain colored sandstone on our beach.  The cliffs at Au Sable Point are made up mostly of Jacobsville sandstone.  Broken and beach-shaped pieces lie all over the place.

Because of the sandstone shoals that jot out a mile from shore, the waves and ice of Lake Superior push large boulders across the rock to the beach.

The shipwrecks lie between the Hurricane River campground and Au Sable Point.  Primarily there are pieces from two ships.  The "bones" of the Sitka and Gale Staples are mingled.  The two craft were much alike -- both were double decked wooden bulk freighters.  Each had two masts and were 272 and 277 feet in length, built in 1887 and 1888.  The Sitka stranded on October 4, 1904, in heavy fog and high winds.  Downbound and loaded with iron ore, the ship ran aground, filled with water and was abandoned in heavy seas.  Lifesavers from Grand Marais rescued 17 men from the ship.

The Gale Staples was upbound on Octover 1, 1918, laden with coal for Port Arthur.  Driven by high winds, she veered off course and grounded on the reef.  All hands were eventually rescued.  Pieces of these two ships are strewn across the beach, as well as lying on the reef in shallow water.

This artifact looks like it is something you can carry away (which is illegal).  It is many feet long and weighs a couple of hundred pounds.

As Diana and Jill were examining the artifacts of old ships, a modern freighter happened by.


  1. Wow, I never knew these old ship wrecks were there on the beach! I have so much to see and learn about up there! Your friend took some wonderful photos for you. If you haven't seen my blog, I posted some photos on the Ausable River yesterday.

  2. I am getting loads of ideas of places to go next year. Wont be going to the U.P in winter thanks. Live in Traverse city, thats bad enough.
    Loving this blog