Shipwrecks (Vermilion Point & Two Hearted River Lifesaving Stations)
I decided to do something different with this post. I took a long look back at the history of two of the Lifesaving Stations along Lake Superior rocky coast. I hope you enjoy this post?
Vermilion Point Lifesaving Station Shipwrecks:
Allegheny: Lumber Schooner weighing in at 664 ton. The Allegheny was 187 foot long. Schooner was launched from Erie, Pennsylvania in 1873.
Story: On the 6th day of June 1913 in heavy seas and high winds she broke away from her tow steamer. The Allegheny was stranded on a sand bar near Vermilion Point Lifesaving Station.
Lost: One of her crew members lost their life as the Allegheny broke up and sank.
Barge 129: 292 foot long steel whaleback barge, capable of handling 1,310 tons of iron ore. This mighty barge was launched at W. Superior, Wisconsin in 1892.
Story: On the 13th day of October 1902 she was heavily loaded down with iron ore when she broke her towline just off the shores of Vermilion Point Lifesaving Station.
Lost: While trying to reconnect with her tow vessel, she was rammed by the Maunaloa and sank to the bottom of Lake Superior. Both crews survived the collision and both wrecks sit in 129 feet of water near Vermillion Point.
M. M. Drake: Launched from Buffalo, New York during 1882. M. M. Drake was a wooden bulk freight steamer, capable of caring 1,102 tons and her overall length was 102 feet.
Story: The schooner-barge Michigan was in a strong gale off Vermilion Point Lifesaving Station. She was attempting to link up the two vessels (M. M. Drake and the Michigan) again. As the two vessels got closer together, the seas became even more volatile. The winds picked up and came at the ship with Gale force winds. A huge wave came out of nowhere and slammed the two vessels together. Both vessels collided violently together. The force of the collision caused their wooden hulls to be crushed to pieces. Both the M. M. Drake and the Schooner-Barge Michigan sank quickly as the waters from Lake Superior came rushing in. The good news was just prior to their collision there were other vessels in the area that witness this shipping tragedy. Those two vessels went immediately to the aid of the crew members floundering in the water.
Lost: On the 2nd day of October 1901 the steamer lost her consort. During an expedition in 1978 the wooden bulk steamer’s wreckage was discovered.
Eureka: 330 ton bulk freighter schooner-barge. Her overall length was approximately 138 feet. The bulk freighter schooner-barge was launched sometime during 1873 out of Trenton, Michigan. In her holds, the Eureka was latent down with a large load of iron ore. The Eureka, two other barges and the steamer Prentice were part of a three barge tow. The Eureka was the smallest barge in the group.
Story: On the 20th day of October 1886 a terrible northern gale hit Lake Superior. The northern gale’s hit with such force, that it caused all four barges to break away from each other. Each barge was left to fend for itself as the gales continued to blow.
Lost: The Steamer Prentice and the other 2 barges managed to make to port, however the Eureka and its six man crew were never seen or heard from again as the bulk freighter schooner-barge floundered in Lake Superior.
Chauncey Hurlbut: Wooden package freight steamer that was capable of handling 1,009 tons of cargo. She was approximately 185 feet in length. During 1873 she was launched out of St. Clair, Michigan. The Chauncey Hurlbut had its first tragedy in 1889 when a fire severely damaged the freight steamer.
Story: On the 6th day of September 1908 a horrendous gale blew across Lake Superior. The old steamer, loaded down with her heavy cargo of stamped sand was tossed around as the waves pounded her from left to right. As the seas became more intense the old wooden hull began to leak. The skipper knew he had to do something to counter the heavy seas that continued to pound away at the ships badly worn hull. The skipper new the hull was on the brink of collapse. The skipper was an intelligent man. He knew the only way to save his crew was to beach the Chauncey Hurlbut near Vermilion Point Lifesaving Station. The keeper at Vermilion Point Lifesaving Station saw what was happening to the Hurlbut. He assembled his surfmen and rowed out to the wooden package freight steamer.
Lost: The Lifesaving Station personal managed to take the 14 crewmen off the vessel. The heavy seas finally took their toll on the hull, as the war went on the hull was shattered to pieces.
Jupiter: Wood Bulk Freight Schooner-Barge with a capacity of 400 tons and built in 1872.
Story: The Steamer John A. Dix had Jupiter in tow when a howling northern arctic gale came blowing across Lake Superior. As the gale blew the wood bulk freight schooner-barge managed to hold her own until the towline broke free from the John A. Dix. The storm-built combers destroyed the Jupiter.
Lost: On the 27th day of November 1872 near Vermilion Point Lifesaving Station. Seven out of her eight man crew were lost during this shipping tragedy.
Michigan: Schooner-Barge that set sail out of Detroit, Michigan sometime during 1874. She was approximately 213 feet in length and able to hold approximately 1,056 tons of cargo.
Story: On the 2nd day of October 1901 during stormy seas the Michigan sprang a leak. Water began to fill the lower parts of the Michigan Schooner Barge just of Vermilion Point. The M. M. Drake made a valiant attempt to come along side the Michigan and assist the crew off the vessel. During their rescue attempt the two vessels were thrown together by heavy seas. As a result of this violent collision both the M. M. Drake and the Michigan sank to the bottom of Lake Superior.
Lost: One of the crew members from the Michigan was thrown overboard and never seen again.
Miztec: Marine City Michigan, the Bulk Freight Schooner-Barge Miztec was launched in 1890. Her length was 194 feet. Her cargo capacity was 777 tons.
Story: The Miztec during her life had some very bad luck. In the fall of 1919 she struck bottom and was stranded just off Vermilion Point. On the heels of a blowing gale salvage operation were launched. The Miztec was refitted and returned to service in 1920. It seems rather funny that in 1920 after she was rebuilt the Miztec suffered the same tragedy of 1919. What makes this even funnier is she suffered the fate almost in the same place. Again she was pulled of the rocks and rebuilt. On the 15th day of May 1921 the Steamer Zillah had the Miztec in tow. Both vessels were on the crest of another violent gale just off Vermilion Point. The Miztec was loaded down with her cargo of salt. The towline between the 2 vessels broke causing the barge to flounder in the exact location where she had met her tragic fate twice before.
Lost: The Miztec hit the rocky bottom of Lake Superior many times and eventually sank. As a result the entire crew of seven lost their lives as the Miztec sank to the bottom of Lake Superior. The barge was found in 1983.
Niagara: Barcelona, New York 1873 the Bulk Freight Schooner-Barge left its slip for the first time. She was a fine vessel able to carry a cargo in excess of 764 tons. She measured about 205 feet in length.
Story: On the 7th day of September 1887 the Niagara was forced into battling a massive gale storm that blew in off Vermilion Point. The heavy winds blew the mighty Schooner sideways causing her cargo of iron ore to shift violently below decks. The Bulk Freight Schooner-Barge heaved over to one side causing the cargo to shift again. This time the cargo shifted causing her to roll in a downward movement and sank.
Lost: The crew of nine were tossed into the cold waters of Lake Superior and subsequently drowned. The wreck was discovered about 1972.
Joseph Paige: Was a Package /Bulk Freight Schooner-Barge docked out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She was launched sometime during 1872. The Joseph Paige measured 109 feet in length and had a capacity of 625 tons.
Story: The Steamer H. B. Tuttle had the Paige in tow with her cargo of iron ore. The Steamer H. B. Tuttle and Joseph Paige were down bound along Lake Superior’s rugged rocky waters, when they were entangled in a blowing northerly gale. The heavily load barge was pulling hard on her towline as most vessels do in these types of weather conditions. On the 1st of December 1897 was the Joseph Paige broke her towline off Vermilion Point. The crew was immediately set sail, but the gales were too strong and drove the barge onto a bar a few hundred feet from shore. Along the shoreline there was a 20 foot wall of ice fragments that were building up along Crisp Point shoreline. The Joseph Paige only remained above Lake Superior’s stormy sea for a very short time.
Lost: The Joseph Paige was smashed to pieces by the pounding waves and furious winds that continued on for hours.
Frank Perew: Bulk Freight Schooner-Barge launched from her mourning in Cleveland, Ohio sometime during 1867. This 174 foot barge was capable of caring 524 tons of cargo.
Story: The Frank Perew met her fate on the 29th day of September 1891. The Frank Perew was loaded down with a load of coal as a howling gale sprang up near Vermilion Point. The Schooner-barge sails were torn and the ship was being thrown about in heavy seas. The Frank Perew came to rest as heavy seas and pounding waves swamp the ship off the Ile Parisienne. The crew in the meantime launched their yawl and rowed some thirteen miles to the east.
Lost: The pounding waves of Lake Superior caused the small boat to capsize in the surf off Parisienne Island, drowning all but one. The one member of Perew managed to make it to the Island where he spent a long night alone. The next morning he walked about eight miles along the beach where he came into contact with some fisherman. The fishermen feed him and the next morning he was escorted to back to Sault Ste. Marie. The remains of the other crewmembers were never found.
Southwest: 292 foot double masted, 137 foot schooner that set sail sometime during 1870.
Story: Her crew of 8 was put ashore near Vermilion Point. Vermilion point lies approximately 4 miles Northwest of Crisp Point. Weather and heavy seas were noted as the cause of this incident. Over her long career the Southwest experienced a few more mishaps.
The first mishap came during the month of August 1880 when the schooner was struck by lightning. Her final voyage came on the 19th day of September 1898. The two masted schooner was traveling from Portage Lake, Michigan empty after dropping her load of stone. The schooner got stranded on Huron Island in Lake Superior and sank. Her crew of eight managed to get off the schooner in a yawl boat.
W. T. Chappell: Was a small two masted schooner built in Sebe Wavings, Michigan around 1877.
Lost: The W. T Chappell capsized and sank with all of her cargo of wood just 4.5 miles east of Vermillion Point Lifesaving Station on the 24th day of October 1902. All of W. T. Chappell crew was rescued.
Nimicki Alex: Launched out of West Bay City, Michigan in 1890. She was 298 foot long wooden steamer.
Lost: According to eyewitness testimony six lives were lost as the wooden steamer laid strained in a strong gale about 1.5 miles West of Vermilion Point. On the 20th day of September 1907 the steamer sank and lies broken in about 22 feet of water.
Annie M. Peterson: on the 7th day of April 1902 the 190 foot schooner barge, caring 631 tons of iron ore went ashore just west of Vermilion point Lifesaving Station, during a strong Northwest blow.
Story: The Peterson was cast adrift from her tow steamer during the blow and landed on the beach once the wind subsided. About a week later the Annie M Peterson was released from the beach by the fading waters of Lake Superior. Those brave crewmen from Vermilion Lifesaving Station saved everyone from the schooner barge.
Unnamed Scow: Was lost on the 26th day of October 1902 just off Vermilion Point Lifesaving Station.
Story: The vessel broke apart during a storm that left her foundering off the shoreline near Vermilion Lifesaving Station. Her crew managed to make it safely to shore with some assistance from the lifesaving crew, however the Unnamed Scow was a total lost.
Two Hearted River Lifesaving Station Shipwrecks:
W. W. Arnold: On the 4th day of November 1869 the 426 ton schooner was found shattered to pieces at the mouth of the Two Hearts River.
Story: Investigators surmised a northwesterly gale with icy winds and heavy snows caused this tragedy. The storm began on the 4th day of November 1869. The storm ragged on with heavy wind for 24 hours straight and caused a great deal of devastation along the picturesque shoreline of Lake Superior.
Cleveland: 574 ton wooden passenger/freighter Steamer. She was built on Lake Erie in 1852.
Story: November 1868 the Cleveland was grounded on the beach at the mouth of the Two Hearted River. Sometime later salvager’s found her and went about the task of raising her from her watery grave. The Cleveland was restored and made into a barge.