38th anniversary of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

The Edmund Fitzgerald in the Twin Ports with the tug Arkansas, circa early 1960s. (News-Tribune file photo)

Other duties at work have kept me from posting many new items to the Attic in recent months, but I have to note that today – Nov. 10, 2013 – is the 38th anniversary of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald in a massive storm on Lake Superior. The freighter’s crew of 29 men, including several from the Northland, died when the ship sank in eastern Lake Superior off Whitefish Point on Nov. 10, 1975; it had been heading from Superior to Detroit with a load of taconite.

A little after 7 p.m. that day, the Fitzgerald was in radio contact with the nearby Arthur M. Anderson, and reported that they were “holding our own” in heavy seas. There was no further contact with the freighter; minutes later the ship had disappeared from radar screens.

I compiled a number of archive photos and other information about the Fitzgerald in 2010, on the 35th anniversary of the wreck. You can view that post here.

Among the items posted there is this well-done video for Gordon Lightfoot’s famous song about the wreck:

Split Rock Lighthouse northeast of Two Harbors will host its annual beacon lighting and memorial service for the victims of the Fitzgerald, and all Great Lakes wrecks, this afternoon. They will toll a bell 29 times for each man who lost his life on the Fitzgerald, and then toll the bell a 30th time for all lost mariners. After that, the lighthouse’s beacon will be lit. It’s the only time each year when visitors can climb to the top of the tower while the beacon is lit and revolving.

The lighthouse will be open from noon to 6 p.m. today; the memorial service is at 4:30 p.m. Admission is $7 per person, free for Minnesota Historical Society members.

Here’s a News Tribune video of the Nov. 10, 2011, memorial ceremony at Split Rock:

Share your memories by posting a comment.

Interstate Bridge, 1961

As with the previous post on the bear in the boat, this one features a reader-submitted photo from years back that was left in the News Tribune files.

The photo, credited to C.F. Sager of Duluth and dated Oct. 22, 1961, is a view of the old Interstate Bridge linking Duluth and Superior, as seen from its replacement, the then-new High Bridge, later named the Blatnik Bridge. Click on the photo for a larger version:

Here are a couple of zoomed-in views:

The Interstate Bridge has been featured in several past Attic posts:

Interstate Bridge

Superior’s Main Street and the Interstate Bridge

Edmund Fitzgerald passes through the Interstate Bridge

Most of the span was removed in the years after the Blatnik Bridge opened. Part of the Interstate Bridge remains in place on the Duluth side and is used as a fishing pier; find more information at the links listed above.

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37th anniversary of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

 

The freighter Edmund Fitzgerald is guided by the tug Vermont under the Blatnik Bridge and through the opening in the Interstate Bridge, circa 1960. (News-Tribune file photo)

Today – Nov. 10, 2012 – is the 37th anniversary of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald in a powerful Lake Superior storm. The crew of 29, including several men from the Northland, died when ship, heading from Superior to Detroit with a load of taconite, sank off Whitefish Point in eastern Lake Superior on Nov. 10, 1975.

A little after 7 p.m. that day, the Fitzgerald was in radio contact with the nearby Arthur M. Anderson, and reported that they were “holding our own” in heavy seas. There was no further contact with the freighter; minutes later the ship had disappeared from radar screens.

I compiled a number of archive photos and other information about the Fitzgerald in 2010, on the 35th anniversary of the wreck. You can view that post here.

Among the items posted there is this well-done video for Gordon Lightfoot’s famous song about the wreck:

Split Rock Lighthouse northeast of Two Harbors will host its annual beacon lighting and memorial service for the victims of the Fitzgerald, and all Great Lakes wrecks, this afternoon. They will toll a bell 29 times for each man who lost his life on the Fitzgerald, and then toll the bell a 30th time for all lost mariners. After that, the lighthouse’s beacon will be lit. Find more information about the ceremony here.

Here’s a News Tribune video of the Nov. 10, 2011, memorial ceremony at Split Rock:

And here’s a photo I took a little later that afternoon, of the lighthouse shining out over Lake Superior from its lofty perch:

Share your stories and memories by posting a comment.

The wreck of the Thomas Wilson

At 10:40 on a clear, calm Saturday morning almost exactly 110 years ago, the inbound freighter George G. Hadley collided with the outbound whaleback steamer Thomas Wilson just off the Duluth Ship Canal in what the News Tribune reported was “one of the most spectacular and disastrous marine catastrophes” of the time.

The Wilson sank in minutes on June 7, 1902, with the loss of nine of its 21 crew. It still lies beneath the waves of Lake Superior within site of Canal Park and the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center, where an exhibit on the wreck will be formally opened at 1 p.m. Monday.

The exhibit has been open for a while now. Center director Thom Holden said the it features some items that have been in the center’s collection for several decades, and some new acquisitions made in recent years from divers who recovered them from the wreck.

Here’s an account of the collision written by the News Tribune’s Chuck Frederick in May 1996, when the wreck site was named one of Minnesota’s most endangered historic sites because of damage caused by ships’ anchors:

On a glorious June day in 1902, the whaleback steamer Thomas Wilson sailed quietly across glass-still water through the Duluth entry and into Lake Superior.

Less than a mile out, the wooden freighter George Hadley was changing course. The captain had decided not to enter the harbor in Duluth. He steamed the ship instead toward the Superior entry — and into the path of the Wilson.

Neither boat was able to yield. The nose of the 287-foot Hadley slammed into the broadside of the Wilson. She went down fast. Water poured into cargo holds that had been left unsecured. The captain figured he could save time by bolting down the hatch covers during the trip across the calm lake.

Within minutes, the Wilson’s mast was all that was left poking through the still water about a half-mile from the Duluth entry. The Hadley was able to beach itself along Minnesota Point where it could later be salvaged and repaired.

Nine crew members went down with the Wilson, a ship that is now part of Northland shipping lore. She was built in 1892 in Superior at the American Steel Barge Co., an ancestor to today’s Fraser Shipyards. The company was owned by Alexander McDougall, who designed the whaleback steamers, including the SS Meteor, a sister ship to the Wilson that now is open for tours on Superior’s Barker’s Island. The Wilson’s anchors are displayed on the lawn in front of the Marine Museum in Duluth’s Canal Park.

The wreck is popular among divers, who wait for northeasterly winds to push in clear water. But it’s not the ship it used to be, they say. “It has been utterly destroyed” by the anchors dropped by Great Lakes vessels, said Elmer Engman, a Proctor diver who owns Inner Space Scuba Equipment along Miller Trunk Highway.

“It looks like a ship that’s been in a war,” said Scott Anfinson of the State Historic Preservation Office in St. Paul. “It looks like someone’s been dropping bombs on it. Instead of colliding with one ship, it looks like it was hit by five or six boats all at once.”

The Wilson’s deck has been destroyed by the anchors, but the forward cabins and bow structure are still intact.

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Here are links to the front page and a jump page of the News Tribune from June 8, 1902, the day after the wreck. You can read the full account of the sinking of the Wilson, and also look at what else was making news 110 years ago:

Thomas Wilson wreck front page

Thomas Wilson wreck jump page

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June 7 is the anniversary of another well-known Lake Superior wreck – the America, which sank at Isle Royale on June 7, 1928. The history website Zenith City Online has a post about the America here.

The bow of the America can still be seen just beneath the surface – close enough to touch with an oar from a boat when I visited there in the 1990s.

Archive aerial views of the Twin Ports

I came across two (and was e-mailed a third) old aerial photos of the Twin Ports. Here they are (click on the photos for a larger view):

View over the West End and the Rice’s Point rail yards toward the Blatnik Bridge, 1970. (News Tribune file photo)

This photo shows construction of Interstate 35 (and I-535), including parts of the “Can of Worms” interchange, in 1970. The Blatnik Bridge, seen in the distance, had already been open for several years at the time of this photo; its traffic was directed onto Garfield Avenue (where you can see part of Goldfine’s-by-the-Bridge Department Store).

The photo also captures a sliver of the West End business district. Here’s a closer view of Superior Street:

From left to right, you can see a DX service station / car wash; Enger & Olson furniture (with J & J Phillips 66 service station across Superior Street); 19th Avenue West; and the West End Liquor Store, with a billboard on the side that reads “Scotch Scotch” (perhaps Ron Burgundy could have shopped there back in the day).

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Here’s a view of the Burlington Northern ore docks in Superior from 1977. The Mesabi Miner is berthed at the ore dock on the right. On the left, the nearer boat has “Inland Steel” on its side; I can’t make out the ship name, but it looks like the distinctive Edward L. Ryerson, which currently is in long-term layup at Fraser Shipyards just a few miles from where this photo was taken. The name of the third boat can’t been read in this picture.

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And courtesy of Gary Androsky over at the Superior Telegram, here’s an image from the Telegram’s files of Interstate 35 being extended through downtown Duluth in the 1980s – the tunnels are under construction in this view, which also provides a good look at much of downtown; click on the photo for a much larger image.

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Odds and ends old photos of Duluth

Here are some random old photos of Duluth from the News Tribune files that I just don’t have enough information about to build an entire post for each. So I’ll assemble them here (click on the photos for a larger view)…

Gowan-Peyton-Twohy Co. and other businesses and warehouses at the foot of Fifth Avenue West in Duluth, circa 1900, near where the Great Lakes Aquarium stands today. There are quite a few posters hanging on those low buildings to the left. Using a magnifying glass, I was able to (I think) read only one of them…

In the middle of this zoomed-in view is a poster showing a large horseshoe and (again, I think) the brand name Nev-R-Slip Shoes.

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This postcard view of the Duluth Ship Canal, circa 1902, predates construction of the Aerial Ferry Bridge.

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This photo is a copy of a copy (of a copy?) and is labeled “1873 – above Fourth Street.” It’s looking east toward Lake Superior. Here’s a slightly more-zoomed-in view:

Have any information about what you see in these photos? Share your memories and stories by posting a comment.

Photos of the Aerial Ferry Bridge

Before it was the Aerial Lift Bridge, the Duluth icon was the Aerial Ferry Bridge.

When the span linking Canal Park to Park Point first opened in 1905, a gondola – or “aerial ferry” carried passengers and vehicles across the ship canal. The bridge was converted to its present lift-and-lower span in the winter of 1929-30.

I’m unsure of the origin of the photos with this post; I don’t think they were taken as News Tribune photos. They may have been sent in by readers at one time, but they’ve been residing in dusty files upstairs here for years. Whatever the source, they offer some nice glimpses of the Aerial Ferry Bridge; click on each photo for a larger view:

Duluth’s Aerial Ferry Bridge as viewed from the Lake Superior side, circa 1918.

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Aerial Ferry Bridge viewed from Park Point side, circa April 1923. Signs on buildings to the right of the bridge structure on the far side read “Auto Transfer and Storage Co.” and (I think) “Hoopes Real Estate Loans.”

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Aerial Ferry Bridge viewed from Park Point side, April 1, 1923.

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Boarding the Aerial Ferry Bridge gondola from Park Point, April 1923.

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36th anniversary of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

Today, Nov. 10, 2011, is the 36th anniversary of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald in a November gale on Lake Superior.

Last year, on the 35th anniversary, I compiled a pretty extensive collection of photos and video related to the wreck. You can view that entry here.

I may try to dig up some more stuff to post later today, but in the meantime I’d suggest you look at last year’s post… and listen to Gordon Lightfoot’s famous song about the wreck, and think about the ship and crew on that stormy night – and all the other ships and crews that have been wrecked on the Great Lakes over the years:

 

Split Rock Lighthouse will host its annual beacon lighting and memorial service for the victims of the Fitzgerald wreck, and all Great Lakes wrecks, this afternoon. More information on the event is here.

Duluth ore docks, 1940

September 15, 1940

This News Tribune archive photograph of the Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railway ore docks is dated September 15, 1940. It’s a photograph taken and issued by the U.S. Army Air Corps.

It’s interesting to see how bare the hillside is below Skyline Parkway. You can also see Wade Stadium under construction to the left of the docks; it didn’t open until summer 1941.

Here are some zoomed-in views (click on the photos for larger versions):

This is the full width of the original photo, but cropped in to focus on the populated area.

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Here is the area to the west of the docks, including the construction site for Wade Stadium.

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This is the area to the east of the docks, with Lincoln Park easily recognized by the mass of trees on the right.

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Here’s an extra-zoomed-in view of the area east of the docks, focused on the Clyde Iron complex. You also can make out the old Master Bread Co.  / Peerless auto body building that burned last week.

For those with really good eyes and memories, there’s a large building complex, with several wings, in the photo just above Clyde Iron and just to the left of the Master Bread Co. Any idea what that was? Post a comment.

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Here’s one more image of the DM&IR ore docks, dated July 1959:

I count at least 14 freighters at the docks – plus at least four more across the bay. There’s a note on the back of the photo about ore boats being idled, so perhaps there was some kind of work stoppage that caused a backup of boats.

Also in the photo, you can see the edge Wade Stadium at right, and Wheeler Field at the bottom.

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