Remembering the Carl D. Bradley

Carl D Bradley on the Great Lakes

Bradley – Color – 300 dpi, photo by Presque Isle County Historical Museum.

23 women became widows in that instant and 53 children lost their fathers.
~Rogers City resident on the sinking of the Bradley

The Edmund Fitzgerald gets the majority of the attention when Michigan shipwrecks are discussed, but it can be argued (very convincingly) that the wreck of the Carl D Bradley on November 18, 1958 was the greatest of Great Lakes tragedies. 33 of 35 crewmen – most from her home port of Rogers City – perished, leaving the small city in northeastern lower Michigan stunned by grief.

Over on Absolute Michigan today we have an excellent feature from the Archives of Michigan on the Wreck of the Carl D. Bradley that includes a riveting video from the documentary November Requiem. An article by Warren J. Toussaint about the sinking begins:

Tuesday, Nov. 18, 1958, at 5:31 p.m., the limestone carrier, Carl D. Bradley, was up bound on Lake Michigan, having delivered her last limestone cargo of the year to Indiana on November 17,1958. She stayed close to the Illinois and Wisconsin shores because of reports of severe weather conditions rapidly developing from the west. As it reached the area of Sturgeon Bay, Wis., it had to turn to the northeast in order to cross the upper area of Lake Michigan on its way to the homeport of Rogers City, Mich., on Lake Huron. Suddenly, the Bradley’s steering wheel went slack, as if the gears had suddenly disconnected. On the course it was on, the winds and waves were striking the ship on the aft quarter of the port side causing the ship to rock severely. First Mate, Elmer Fleming, knew the ship was in trouble. He jerked the radio telephone from its cradle and shouted a desperate call “Mayday, Mayday, – Mayday. This is the Carl D. Bradley. Mayday Mayday Mayday.”

Read on and see much more at!

The photo is one of the last known photos of the Steamer Carl D. Bradley, taken after she passed under the Mackinac Bridge and was making the turn to the southeast to set a course for Rogers City. Check it out background big and in their great Bradley Transportation Fleet slideshow. Definitely have a look at the Presque Isle County Historical Museum website for more on the Bradley and the history of the region and to order the Bradley DVD!

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