Coast Guard shares Manitou Passage shipwrecks from above

Wreckage of the Rising Sun

Wreckage of the Rising Sun, photo by U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City

Yesterday the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City shared a collection of photos from the Manitou Passage Underwater Preserve, writing”

We can call it “Shipwreck Sunday” – With Lake Michigan ice gone for the season the crystal clear, deep blue waters of northern Michigan are back (albeit still VERY VERY cold at an average of 38 degrees).

During a routine patrol this past Friday, an aircrew captured these photos of a handful of the many shipwrecks along the Lake Michigan shoreline. These photos were taken near Sleeping Bear Point northeast along the shoreline to Leland, Michigan up to Northport.

Information on the shipwrecks is scarce, please post if you recognize any of the photographed sites.

View the Coast Guard’s photo bigger and click through for photos of other wrecks including the James McBride. Definitely follow them on Facebook for more cool shots of Michigan’s coastline from above!

Regarding the Rising Sun, the Leelanau Enterprise shares Leelanau historian George Weeks account of the wreck that includes a photo of the grounded Sun:

In October 1917, the Rising Sun went to High Island to get potatoes, rutabagas and lumber to take to Benton Harbor. On 29 October, in one of the early-season snowstorms that sweep the Lakes, the Rising Sun went aground at Pyramid Point. Lifeboats were launched and all thirty-two people aboard eventually saved.

As was often the case with Great Lakes wrecks, shoreline residents, not the U.S. Coast Guard, were the first to provide assistance. In this case, Fred Baker, summoned in the night by survivors pounding at the door of his home atop the Port Oneida bluff, was the first to respond. He hastened to his barn, quickly unloaded 60 bushels of potatoes that were on his wagon, hitched his team, and went down to the beach. The survivors, including a woman found unconscious on the beach, were brought to Baker’s house. (By the 1990s, Baker’s daughter, Lucille, who was four years old at the time of the wreck, was still residing at Port Oneida, the wife of Jack Barratt, great grandson of Port Oneida settler Carsten Burfiend.)

The Coast Guard beach rescue rig arrived from Glen Haven, pulled by two teams of horses borrowed from D.H. Day. A man who was asleep when the others abandoned ship was rescued by the guardsmen.

Remains of the Rising Sun are visible from the shore on a clear day, and are popular for recreational divers. As with other wrecks, the remains are protected objects within the Manitou Passage Bottomland Preserve.

Read more about the Rising Sun, it’s caro and final voyage and the House of David that owned it from Chris Mills and see more shipwrecks on Michigan in Pictures.

#TBT: Wreck of the Carl D. Bradley

Carl D. Bradley

Carl D. Bradley, photo by John Rochon

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.

Life’s a Beach in Michigan

Glen Haven Dune Hike

Glen Haven Dune Hike, photo by Jess Clifton

I don’t think that enough is made of the fact that as long as you’re in Michigan, you are never more than 85 miles from one of the Great Lakes. To make matters better, Michigan law permits you to freely walk the entire Great Lakes shoreline so get out and have some adventures this weekend!

About this photo, Jess writes: These images were taken on a hike on the Lake Michigan shoreline in Glen Haven MI roughly two years ago. Can’t recommend this hike enough! (I’m curious if any shipwreck remnants are still explorable with this year’s higher waterline.)

I’m curious too and will try to find out!

View Jess’ photo background bigtacular and see more in her Glen Haven Shipwreck Hike slideshow.

Lots more Michigan beaches and more Michigan summer wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures.

Hunting the Griffon

Detail: The LaSalle Stained Glass Window, Installed at Dossin Great Lakes Museum, Belle Isle Park--Detroit MI

Detail: The LaSalle Stained Glass Window, Installed at Dossin Great Lakes Museum, Belle Isle Park–Detroit MI, photo by pinehurst19475

John Flesher of the Associate Press has a feature on NBC News about the possible discovery of the Holy Grail of Great Lakes shipwrecks, Le Griffon, the ship of French explorer Rene-Robert Sieur de La Salle. The article says (in part):

A wooden beam embedded at the bottom of northern Lake Michigan appears to have been there for centuries, underwater archaeologists announced Tuesday, a crucial finding as crews dig toward what they hope is the carcass of a French ship that disappeared while exploring the Great Lakes in the 17th century.

Expedition leaders still weren’t ready to declare they had found a shipwreck or the long-lost Griffin. The ship, commanded by the French explorer La Salle, was never seen again after setting sail in September 1679 from an island near the entrance of Green Bay, in what is now northern Wisconsin, with a crew of a six and a cargo of furs.

…Scientists and divers began excavating last week at the base of the wooden beam, hoping to determine whether it is part of the Griffin. Steve Libert, a diver and shipwreck enthusiast who has searched three decades for the Griffin, discovered the timber in 2001 and recently obtained state and federal permits to probe beneath the muddy surface.

Read on for more. Libert is president of Great Lakes Exploration Group started the Lasalle-Griffon Project with the state of Michigan and the Republic of France in July of 2010. He’s definitely obsessed with finding the ship, and their Expedition page explains:

If the wreck Libert has found is Le Griffon, it will be a find of tremendous historical significance. Le Griffon was built by Rene-Robert Sieur de La Salle, one of the first French explorers of the Great Lakes Region. He would later claim the Mississippi River watershed for France, a vast expanse of land that extended from the Allegheny Mountains to the Rocky Mountains and North of the Great Lakes, a portion of which became what is presently known as the Louisiana Purchase.

Exploration and study of the ship will tell us much about the history of our country and how our ancestors lived. “The ship is a time capsule that will fill the missing gaps of La Salle’s early exploration of North America,” says Libert. In particular, the wreck is a record of ship construction of that period, about which relatively little is known. La Salle constructed Le Griffon on the banks of the Niagara River, about three miles above the falls. There is strong documentation to support the view that Le Griffon was built on what is now the U.S. side of the Falls. If the wreckage is Le Griffon, however, it may be possible to use samples to establish definitively which side it was built on.

The fact that Le Griffon was built in the wilderness, as opposed to a shipyard, will reveal the circumstances La Salle and his men faced and the tools and technology they possessed. The ship was built with timber cut on site. The exact dimensions of the vessel are not known. It is however known to have been a 40 tun* vessel with three masts, a foremast, main and mizzen, and several square sails.

*Tun is an old French word for a large cask used in shipping wine, equivalent to 33.7 cubic feet or 252 gallons. Read on for a whole lot more.

Regarding the stained glass above, pinehurst19475 writes:

This is a full view of part of a panel that depicts two cavaliers in discussion. They are part of a scene that depicts Robert Cavalier Sieur de la Salle’s voyage through the Detroit River in 1678-9. The small boat in the foreground is the “Griffon,” the vessel that made the voyage.

The five-part stained glass window was originally installed in the Gothic Room of the “City of Detroit III.” At the time it was built (1912), it was the world’s largest side-wheeler. The Edward F. Lee Glass Company of Detroit designed the stained glass window.

View his photo background big and see more in his Stained Glass slideshow.

Edmund Fitzgerald, 1975

Edmund Fitzgerald 1975

Edmund Fitzgerald 1975, photo by The Open Lake Group LLC

Wade writes that this photo by Roger LeLievre of the Fitzgerald as she passes downbound in the St. Mary’s River off Six Mile Point is one of his all time favorite views the Fitz. See it on black and in his Edmund Fitzgerald slideshow. Wade works the lakes and has some really cool photos of all kinds of ships in his photostream. He had this to say about the Fitz:

The 729 foot Str. Edmund Fitzgerald was launched into the Detroit River in 1958. Over the next 17 years she was considered to be the ‘best among the best” as the flagship of the Columbia Transportation Line. Sailors that worked on her took immense pride in their opportunity and she was a favorite of sailors and people ashore as well.

Lots more Edmund Fitgerald on Michigan in Pictures and definitely check out The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald by Joseph Fulton on Absolute Michigan – a masterful video that accompanies Gordon Lightfoot’s tribute with great footage.

Wyandotte shipbuilding, the Fitzgerald brothers and the launch of the Little Fitz

Launch of the W.E. Fitzgerald at Wyandotte

Launch of the S.S. W.E. Fitzgerald at Wyandotte, Detroit Publishing Co.

I have no idea how I ended up at this photo (and why I suddenly feel like Paul Harvey), but here’s what I’ve learned through Boatnerd.com and a forum with a brief article from Boatnerd by Dick Wiklund about the “Little Fitz.”

William and Julia Fitzgerald of Marine City, Michigan sired six sons. The sons were fascinated by the wooden sailing ships and early steamboats on the St. Clair River, and all six became captains of Great Lakes ships. The youngest of these was John Fitzgerald, who started a shipyard in Milwaukee. His son, William E. Fitzgerald, took over the business in the 1890s but died just a few years later. William’s close friend, Captain Dennis Sullivan, built and christened the W.E. Fitzgerald in Wyandotte in his honor in 1906.

The Wyandotte Historical Museum’s history page says that Wyandotte’s shipbuilding industry was started by Eber B. Ward:

Wyandotte produced over 200 ships, varying from small tugs to large steamers and passenger ferries. Under the name of the American Shipbuilding Company the Wyandotte yards flourished. Hulls were constructed in Wyandotte and were taken up the Detroit River to Detroit, Michigan were they were outfitted. Smaller companies such as the E.H.Doyle Hoop & Stave Works(1889)who provided the city’s first electric power, the Regeant Stove Company, the McCord Corp. and the Beals & Selkirk Trunk Company soon made Wyandotte a famous industrial town.

In 1953, the WE Fitzgerald became known as the Little Fitz when the massive freighter named after William’s son was launched. His name, of course, was Edmund Fitzgerald.

The Library of Congress index of Wyandotte photos is heavy ships & shipyards (you may need to go to this page and search for “Wyandotte”). If you’re in the mood for a ton of Great Lakes freighter information (and a little music and “Laker” cooking), head over to Absolute Michigan’s word of the week: Freighter.