July 7, 2018 – Whitefish Point, WI – It took a week and A day but managed to reach my destination of the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum in Whitefish Point, MI and it was well worth the ride.
The bell, also called ‘The Voice of the Edmund Fitzgerald,’ is displayed as a shiny tribute in the middle of the museum. It is surrounded by other stories of lives lost on the mighty Great Lakes.
Whitefish Point has been called the graveyard of Lake Superior. Since navigation began on Lake Superior there have been approximately 550 wrecks.
Prior to wireless radio, ships communicated passing intentions by whistle signals which were often misinterpreted. To make things worse, Whitefish Point became infamous for poor visibility conditions due to fog, blinding snow squalls, and even the occasional smoke from forest fires that conceal ship movements.
While many talk about the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, the worst disaster was actually on Lake Superior on August 20, 1920 about 24 miles southeast of Whitefish Point. On that date, the SS Superior City (the largest boating vessel ever built on freshwater at that time) was rammed by a much larger steamer vessel the Willis L. King after some passing signals got crossed.
Twenty-nine lives were lost; four crew survived to be rescued by the Willis L. King. To this day, The bones of the victims still rest on the deck 265 feet below.
(Audio credit: Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum)
Lightkeepers had to wind the mechanism which turn the light every 2 1/2 hours.
Lenses and chimneys had to be cleaned, wicks trimmed, machinery oiled and equipment checked on a daily basis.
The keeper carried fuel to the lamp in cans from the oil storage house which had to be located 100 feet from the lighthouse in case of fire.