Shipwrecks of The Great Lakes S18

From Encyclopedia of Wisconsin Environmental History
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This article is still in draft status.

Ever since man started to inhabit the northern most states of the country, we have needed a way to transport valuable resources in an efficient manner. And thus after the Great Lakes were opened to the seaboard from a series of canals, ships were able to travel.


Death's Door

Originally called "Porte des Morts," Door County's Death's Door has long been known as one of the most dangerous straights of the Great Lakes, that stretch from the tip of the Door County to Washington Island. Going as far back to the Colonization of America by foreign settlers, it's been document that the Native Americans who resided in Door County had the worst of least luck in surviving against the harsh waters. And that many warriors of two warring tribes have lost their lives to the unforgiving nature of it. Thus earning the name "Death's Door."

Lake Superior

Lake Superior is the Greatest of the the Great Lakes, in it is 3 quadrillion gallons of fresh water. Which equates to around ten percent of the worlds fresh water volume. At it's greatest depth of 1,332 feet, it's also considered the deepest of the Great Lakes.

Lake Michigan

Coming in second for the for the largest of the Great Lakes, is Michigan. With a surface area of 22,300 square miles, it's name originated from the Ojibwe, mishigami, meaning large lake. Water temperatures normally run around 60 degrees Fahrenheit, though in the winter hypothermia can settle in within 15 minutes.


Edmund Fitzgerald

Among the many victims of the Great Lakes, the most notable is the Edmund Fitzgerald. A ship that was hauling over 26,000 tons of iron ore was struck by massive storm on Lake Superior just right outside of Whitefish Bay. All 29 crew members were killed because of the storm.

Christina Nilsson

Right off of the coast of the quaint summer town is the town of Baileys Harbor. The cool waters of Lake Michigan hide a beautiful secret, right in the harbor is the wreck of the Christina Nilsson. It's sinking was the result of snow storm that struck the area in November of 1884. With gale force winds whipping over the water creating high waves, the ship attempted to turn back 20 miles North from the Sturgeon Bay canal to escape the storm. Though once the winterstorm was behind them, they still faced the winds that was shuttling them to the west right into the outer reef of Baileys Harbor and immediately started to sink in the 15 feet of water. No crew were lost in the wrecks as they abandoned the ship on an emergency boat on the front of the ship and headed to a small island for shelter. After various failed salvage efforts the ship was considered a total loss.

Safety on the Waters

Fincatieri Shipbuilding Interview

In a recent interview with the Lead Marine Engineer, Allan, for the Shipbuilding company Fincantieri. It was noted that with ships today, in order to safely navigate and determine the safety of the waters, they rely on the scale and turbulence of the waves and water on a scale of 0 to 9. Considering that most ships back in the late 1800's and earlier 1900's didn't have the technology that we have today it is easy to understand how fortunate the sailors of the great lakes are today.

In order to provide the safest of regulations, the Code of Federal Regulations(CFR), they are usually set forth by the United States Coast Guard. Among these regulations is the responsibility to meet or exceed the minimum safety requirements for repairing vessels before they are able to set sail once more.


"Lake Michigan Facts," Purch, Live Science, Accessed 2018-5-08 </>

"Lake Superior Physical Characteristics," Seagrant, Accessed 2018-5-08 </>

"Christina Nilsson (1871)," Wisconsin Shipwrecks, Accessed 2018-05-03 </>

"40 years ago, the 'Witch of November' sank the Edmund Fitzgerald," USA Today, Accessed 2018-05-03 </>

"Death's Door," Wisconsin Shipwrecks, Accessed 2018-05-03 </>

Article History=

kaziquad (18-05-03)