We postponed groceries and laundry yesterday to visit the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point. This is an extremely worthwhile stop. The museum highlights several of the better known wrecks out of the 200 or so near the point, including the Edmund Fitzgerald, which lies about 15 miles northwest of the point. The museum includes the original bell from 'Big Fitz' which was raised and replaced with a bell engraved with the names of the 29 crew members lost.
The focus of the Shipwreck Society is to record and map as many of the wrecks as possible. There is a display replicating divers reaching one of of the wrecks, as well as artifacts retrieved from a number of the shipwrecks. Most of the sinkings were caused by collisions due to weather and misread signals.
But the most impressive displays to me were about the lifesaving process and safety at sea. Maritime safety was so important to the young United States that one of the earliest agencies set up was the United States Light House Establishment (USLHE) in 1789. Light houses and their keepers became a crucial part of shipping on the Great Lakes. A light that was retired in 1983, replaced by more modern technology, is the centerpiece display in the museum.
There are also exhibits of the beach carts and lifeboats similar to the ones we saw in Glen Haven. In one twenty year period, almost 7000 people were rescued! In another twenty-five year period, 177 surfmen lost their lives due to rescues. Coast watchers would walk out each night and on days with bad weather and meet a watcher from the next station. They exchanged tokens to confirm to the light house keepers that they had completed their duty. It was a lonesome and perilous existence. GPS technology has made much of this no longer necessary, but it's quite a story.
We ended our day with a trip to the Upper Tahquanemon Falls. We didn't get as close as we did to the lower falls because there were 94 steps--down and back up to the viewing platform. The winds on Monday prevented having supper outside, but last night was much calmer and there was a beautiful sunset over the river. An excellent day!
9/14/2017 08:25:35 am
I love maritime museums. Thanks for sharing! I never knew about coast watchers. I feel a story coming on...
9/15/2017 09:27:28 am
Compelling stories of lighthouses over the years....as well as ship wrecks....time travel stories!!!!! My earliest story (not well known) was a spy thought to have been exterminated who was harbored at remote lighthouse and survived to........your story now! Time travel!!
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Some random thoughts about writing, camping, and eating.