Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum

Whitefish Point, MI

It feels like a journey to Land's End.

Probably because it is. Much like our trip out to Cape Flattery, WA two years ago.

The shipwreck museum (left) is part of a campus that includes a lighthouse - a common sight in Michigan.

Michigan's lighthouse locations.
This area is the final resting place for over 800 of the Great Lakes' 6,000 shipwrecks for three primary reasons 1) storms 2) commercial traffic congestion and 3) poor visibility.

The best known shipwreck in our time is the Edmund Fitzgerald, lost in November 1975 seventeen miles from Whitefish Point in over 500 feet of water.

A large exhibit honors her 29 lost crewmen.

The jewel in the exhibit's crown is the Fitzgerald's bell that was recovered from 535 feet.

The story of the bell retrieval is fascinating in itself. Due to the depth of the wreckage, it could only be accessed when this suit - capable of submersion up to 1,200 feet - was developed.

The bell was surgically removed and replaced with a new bell inscribed with the lost crew's names in 1995.

A definitive cause of the tragedy has never been determined. Yes, there was a storm that November night, but nothing the experienced captain hadn't seen before in his long Great Lakes career. No distress signal was ever sent.

Of course, Gordon Lightfoot's voice has been in my head (just like back in the 70's when the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald played continuously on the radio). John told me years later that the song was about an actual tragedy that had just occurred. I had no idea.

Numerous other shipwrecks are detailed, all offering exquisite models, narratives, and artifacts.

Also on display is this 9-foot Fresnel lens.

Lake Superior's first lighthouse began operating in 1849. The building, grounds, and former residence have all been lovingly preserved.

Also on campus is also a building dedicated to the heroic work of the U.S. Coast Guard lighthouse station. From 1871 - 1889 for example, 6,735 people were rescued!

The beach is lovely and is shared with the Seney Wildlife Refuge. Each year about 25,000 raptors migrate through here.

Everyone appeared to enjoy the day.

Afterwards, I was ready to sample the local favorite - fish and chips. The whitefish was plucked from the lake this very morning.



  1. Your post brought back some great memories from when we visited back in 2010. The fish and chips look great, also. Especially here at lunch time.

  2. I was just there also...on the 3rd of Sept...The song is still playing in my head..

  3. I was there in July. You're in my state now...I need to catch up with your blogs!! Well one to Michigan!


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