November 13, 2014
If you know of any shipwreck on the Great Lakes, chances are it’s the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald. While that was no doubt a terrible tragedy, my vote for the most grievous loss is the S.S. Carl D Bradley which sank 56 years ago next Tuesday on November 18, 1957. I found a really excellent article on the ship and shipwreck at Lake Effect Living titled Lost To The Lake: The Wreck of the Carl D. Bradley:
Known as ‘Queen of the Lakes’, the Carl D. Bradley was the largest ship on the Great Lakes from 1927 to 1949. At 639 feet, it was the longest freighter on the Lakes until the launch of the SS Wilfred Sykes twenty-two years later. The largest self-unloading ship for its time, the Bradley was the Bradley Transportation Company’s flagship. Named after the president of Michigan Limestone, Carl David Bradley, this state of the art freighter had its maiden voyage in the summer of 1927. Since Michigan Limestone’s company base was in Rogers City, Michigan, the freighter drew most of its crew from this small community.
…On Monday, November 17, 1958, the steamer left Buffington, Indiana bound for Port of Calcite harbor in Rogers City, Michigan.
The Bradley’s captain was 52-year old Roland Bryan, a veteran seaman. Manned by a crew of thirty-five and carrying a light cargo, the Bradley headed out onto Lake Michigan at 9:30pm. But signs of severe weather were already in evidence when they left Buffington, where winds gusted at more than 35 miles an hour. It was the first ominous indications of an extreme cold front forming over the plains. Temperatures in Chicago plummeted twenty degrees in one day, and thirty tornadoes were sighted from Texas to Illinois.
Aware that gale winds were forecast, the crew readied the steamer for bad weather. They traveled along the Wisconsin shore until reaching Cana Island, where they shifted course for Lansing Shoal which lay across Lake Michigan. The winds on the lake reached 65 miles an hour by 4pm the following day. Still, the Bradley seemed to be weathering the gale force winds and heavy seas with little problem. This changed at 5:30pm when the Port of Calcite received a radio message from First Mate Elmer Fleming informing them that the Bradley, approx. twelve miles southwest of Gull Island, would arrive home at 2am. As soon as this message was sent however, a loud thud or bang was heard on the ship.
When the day was done, 33 of the 35 member crew were dead, 23 of the from Rogers City, Michigan. For a town of less than 4000, it was a heavy blow. Read on for much more and also see Seeking Michigan: The Wreck of the Carl D. Bradley on Absolute Michigan and the tribute site at carldbradley.org.
John Rochon shared this photo of the Bradley was taken from the Blue Water Bridge by Schjelderup Marine Studio and shows the ship heading towards the mouth of Lake Huron. View it big as the Bradley and see more in his massive Great Lakes Ships & Shipping slideshow.
More shipwrecks on Michigan in Pictures.
October 6, 2014
Here’s a color check-in from last week on Mackinac Island. The Mackinac Island State Park Commission says the following about Sugar Loaf rock romation:
Sugar Loaf, a 75 foot tall limestone stack, is the largest rock formation on Mackinac Island. When glacial Lake Algonquin covered much of the Island 11,000 years ago, Sugar Loaf was connected to the nearby bluff face (today called Point Lookout). Wave action slowly washed away the softer limestone between the stack and the bluff, leaving Sugar Loaf as a stand-alone feature. High water levels during the Lake Algonquin period left only the top of Sugar Loaf exposed, as evidenced by the small cave cut into the north face of the formation by wave action. This cave was originally on the shoreline of the lake.
As with other geological features on the Island, numerous Native American legends have been passed down relating to the origin of Sugar Loaf. One story relates that a young man asked the spirits for eternal life. In response, they turned him to stone, creating Sugar Loaf.
August 28, 2014
OK, we’re not throwing back too far for this Thursday, but I wanted to share a really cool view that Mark took this February of the Mackinac Bridge and the Straits of Mackinac locked in the grip of the Polar Vortex.
August 21, 2014
mLive reports that the Government Services Administration is taking bids from nonprofit or community groups to take stewardship of the Round Island Passage Light before auctioning it off. Click through for all the details.
Lighthouse Friends has a page on the Round Island Passage Lighthouse that includes the entry from the 1948 Coast Guard Bulletin on this light that replaced the Round Island Lighthouse (in the background on the left):
The substructure of the new lighthouse, 56 feet square up to the 1 foot line below mean low water, is a timber crib with cells at the perimeter filled with concrete and internal cells filled with 5-inch to 14-inch rock. The superstructure is concrete with a reinforced concrete deck. It has four vertical and four sloping sides, giving the lighthouse a new and unusually trim appearance. The tower is appropriately ornamented on each side with a 4- or 5-foot Indian Head plaque, symbolic of the area.
But the most interesting thing about Round Island Passage Light Station is its main light. Located in the top section of the 41 ½-foot tower, it is indeed a departure from the “single light source” arrangement that has been in use for centuries. This new light apparatus is a solid bank of sealed beam lamps of 3,000 candlepower which produce a characteristic of occulting green every 10 seconds. It is visible 16 miles. (These sealed beam lamps are similar to your present day automobile headlights.)
The fog signal consists of two air operated diaphragm horns, sounding simultaneously with 3 seconds blast and 27 seconds silence. The radiobeacon is class B. Distance finding is also provided.
The passage between Mackinac Island and Round Island has long been regarded as extremely hazardous. It is now adequately guarded by Round Island Passage Light Station. This will result in a saving of time on trips and will relieve the congestion of Poe Reef Channel. This, in turn, will increase Great Lakes’ tonnage.
August 15, 2014
headed out, photo by Susan H
The Cason J. Callaway made an appearance this winter when she was locked in the ice on Lake Huron. Boatnerd’s page on the Callaway says that the 767′ ship took her maiden voyage on September 16, 1952, draws 36′ and is able to haul over 250,00 tons:
The Cason J. Callaway was one of the eight “AAA” class vessels which entered service during 1952 and 1953. She was the last of the trio of vessels in this class (the Philip R. Clarke and Arthur M. Anderson were the first two) built for Pittsburgh Steamship Company, who originally developed the blueprints used for all eight members of this class.
…Initially, the Callaway was used almost exclusively in the iron ore trade. In the early 1960s, the Callaway occasionally visited the St. Lawrence Seaway, often hauling grain from Toledo to ports on the St. Lawrence River and returning with iron ore. By the end of the 1960s, the Callaway returned to the traditional U.S. Steel iron ore trade route. She remained on this route regularly until her conversion to a self-unloader. After the conversion, the vessel began loading a wider variety of cargoes and visiting an even greater variety of ports. Ports such as Ashland and Green Bay, Wisconsin and Ontonagon and Dollar Bay, Michigan would occasionally become part of the Callaway’s trade route. By the late 1980s, the Callaway fell into a somewhat regular trade route, including a trip from either Duluth or Two Harbors with iron ore to a Lower Lakes port, often Lorain; one or two intermediate trips between ports on Lakes Huron, Michigan, and Erie; and a limestone load from quarries at Rogers City (Calcite) and Cedarville (Port Dolomite), Michigan back up to Duluth. An occasional odd cargo or port remains a possibility.
June 26, 2014
While many of Michigan’s historic lighthouses have been decommissioned and are mostly ornamental, Pure Michigan tells the story of how the Wawatam Lighthouse started out as an ornamental lighthouse and now actually has a job! Thinking there’s a children’s story here…
This classic lighthouse started life in 1998 as a Michigan Welcome Center travel icon at Monroe, Michigan. In 2004, the Monroe Welcome Center was being revamped and the lighthouse was put up for relocation. The City of St. Ignace was the lucky recipient and the structure was trucked north in five pieces. It stayed on the Chief Wawatam Dock for a time, awaiting the construction of its new platform. The red, white and green lighthouse was repainted in bright white with red accents. In June 2006, a crane reassembled the tower on its new site. Everything was in readiness, just waiting for U.S. Coast Guard certification. Wawatam Lighthouse takes its name from the late railroad ferry Chief Wawatam, which used this same dock from 1911 through the mid-1980s.
When you visit the lighthouse, you will pass right by the Chief’s old lift gate. Wawatam Lighthouse’s beacon was first lit on August 20, 2006. Visible for more than 13 miles out over Lake Huron, it is now an official aid-to-navigation. The 250 millimeter Fresnel lens casts its light in a 152 degree arc. Though the lighthouse’s GPS location is 45-051-19.700 N by 084-42-09.000 W, it will most likely be easier for you to find it straight out east of McCann Street. The tower is 52 feet tall, but the Coast Guard looks at it in a different way. They rate it as 62 feet tall from the water. It is even lit in the winter to guide snowmobiles across the frozen lake.
More Michigan lighthouses on Michigan in Pictures!
June 3, 2014
If you’ve been following Michigan in Pictures for any length of time, you’re probably familiar with the work of John McCormick aka Michigan Nut.
John has just released his 2015 Michigan Wild & Scenic Wall Calendar, and you can get it for just $15. As an added bonus, if you head over to like his post about it on Facebook, you have a chance to win a free one!
The photo above of the Mackinac Bridge is not only the cover of the calendar, it’s also the photo for June. View (and purchase) John’s photo bigger at MichiganNutPhotography.com, see more in his Michigan Bridges Gallery and definitely follow Michigan Nut Photography on Facebook for a regular dose of photographic awesome from the Great Lakes State!
There’s lots more from John on Michigan in Pictures too!!