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History’s Gem of the Month

July 2010

Shipwrecks at Agate Beach

In the museum's archive I found the photo included below. It shows ships that went aground between Agate Beach and the breakwater that protects Grand Marais Bay.


On the back of the photograph, the following description was written:

On October 20, 1905 at nightfall the second mate of the Turret Crown steamer warned the captain that the storm was increasing in fury. All the day before leaving Sault Saint Marie, the Captain had been drinking. When in front of the Grand Marais, Michigan lighthouse the Captain asked the first mate what lighthouse it was. The captain turned to enter the harbor of refuge but entered on the port side of the pier. The second mate was right in mentioning that the ship would go aground. The captain's excuse was that he believed the harbor to be Grand Marais, Minnesota. Later a wrecking tug assisted the Turret Crown to deeper water, after which she continued on to Duluth.

The Galatea, a lumber barge, also ran aground during the same storm just west of Grand Marais' pier. The vessel was a wooden 3-masted schooner built by the F. Wheeler Company in Bay City, MI in 1882. She was 180 feet long, 33 feet wide and 12 feet high. She was driven so far ashore by the waves that the crew could step off onto solid ground by clambering over her stern. Even though salvagers dug a 900 foot channel to her, she was unsalvageable and broke up the following winter. Her sister ship, the, the Nirvana, was being towed by the propeller ship LL Barth. The Nirvana smashed into the pier and was sunk ¼ mile off shore. The crew was saved but the heavy seas pounded the Nirvana to bits. She later washed up east of the piers on the beach.

Research on the internet regarding the Turret Crown shows that the steamer was built in 1895 by the William Doxford and Sons Company in Sunderland, England. She was 258 feet long, 44 feet wide, and carried a gross tonnage of 1,827 pounds. She was used to carry goods by the Canadian Lake and Ocean Navigation Company. Apparently the problem in Grand Marais was not the only incident. On July 22, 1903 the Turret Crown collided with the wooden freighter Waverly near Harbor Beach, MI causing the freighter to sink. She also collided with the William C Mack on May 4, 1913 causing damage to both vessels. During World War I the Turret Crown was used in the Atlantic to transfer goods. After World Work I she was used along the Pacific coast. Below is a photo taken of the Turret Crown at a dock in Seward, Alaska.

Turret Crown Steamer

The steamer returned to Great Lakes service in 1922. On October 7th of that year she ran aground again off Cove Island in Lake Huron. She was again salvaged and continued service. Her luck ran out on November 2, 1924 when she ran aground and was stranded at Meldrum Point on Manitoulin Island. The metal from her hull was later salvaged and used during World War II.

History's Gems Archives

May 2007
(The Telescope Story)

June 2007
(The Story of the Grand Marais "Meteor")

July 2007
(Hints on Hunting Glacial Agate Article)

August 2007
(Lake Superior Origin from 1957)

Fall 2007
(Tourist Information from the 1920s)

December 2007
(Lake Superior Editorial)

January 2008
(Grand Marais Tourist Signpost)

February 2008
(Unusual Wedding Invitation)

March 2008
(1915 Rules for Teachers)

April 2008
(Cedar Stump article from 1962)

May 2008
(Old Postcards)

June 2008
(Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Proposal Proposal Proposal-Part 1)

Summer 2008
(Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Proposal Proposal-Part 2)

Summer 2008
(Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Proposal Proposal-Part 3)

October 2008
(Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Proposal Proposal-Part 4)

November 2008
(Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Proposal-Part 5)

December 2008
(Agate Leaflet from 1927)

January 2009
(Old Postcards)

February 2009
(Snowstorm Article from 1988)

March 2009
(Lake Superior Agate Poem)

Spring 2009
(History of M77)

July 2009
(Axel Niemi Photo)

August 2009
(Ship Travel on Lake Superior)

September 2009
(Hints on Hunting and Finding Agates)

Fall 2009
(Hints on Hunting and Finding Agates Part 2)

February 2010
(The Story of Grand Marais Part 1)

February 2010
(The Story of Grand Marais Part 2)

April/May 2010
(The Story of Grand Marais Part 3)

June 2010
(Box of Rocks Gets Diploma)

July 2010
(Shipwrecks at Agate Beach)

August/September 2010
(1958 Detroit News Article about Axel Niemi)

Fall 2010
(Reprint from the Douglas Houghton Expedition)

Winter 2011
(Old Postcards and Pictures)

Spring 2011
(1905 Grand Marais Article)

September 2011
(Michigan Log Marks)

March 2012
(John Keating)

January 2012
(Axel Remembered)

March 2012
(John Keating)

June 2012
(The Shark: Post 1)

September 2012
(The Shark: Post 2)

March 2013
(The Shark: Post 3)

August 2013
(All That Glitters. . .)

November 2013
(Excerpts from The Grand Marais Herald)

April 2014
(Souvenir View Book of Sault Ste. Marie)

September 2014
(Michigan Beach Stones)

February 2015
(Michiganís Mystic Dunes)

June 2015
(Vintage Grand Marais Photos)

November 2015
(Gitchee Agomowin)

June 2016
(Grand Marais Poems)

March 2017
(Logging Era Photos)

July 2017
(Jonas Hill Letters)

December 2017
(Seagull (Lost) Island, Grand Marais Bay)

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Gitche Gumee Museum.
E21739 Brazel Street
Grand Marais, Michigan 49839


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