Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Great Lakes Ship wreck Museum
After leaving the Rapid River area, we headed to Tahquamenon Falls State Park to see the falls and visit the Great Lakes Ship wreck Museum located at Whitefish Point, MI. This point is near the eastern end of Lake Superior and nearly all ship traffic moves through Whitefish Bay as it lays along the route to the Soo Locks and the southern Great Lakes.
This area has seen more than its share of the many shipwrecks on the Great Lakes and it is an appropriate place for such a museum. Over 300 lives have been lost from ship crews and passengers off the shores of Whitefish point over the years. This museum provides a rich history of many of these wrecks and their impact on the area. There are many artifacts, photos, paintings, and other displays helping to explain their history.
There is a short movie on the loss of the Edmund Fitzgerald, perhaps the best known of all the ships that have been lost in the area. The ship was lost with all hands. In 1995, the ship's bell was recovered and is on display at the museum. A replacement bell was placed on the ship with the names of all the crew that were lost with the ship.
There are also exhibits on the lifesaving service and Lighthouse service and their successor-the U S Coast Guard. The restored lighthouse provides a real insight into the life of the keeper and his family and docents provide an entertaining narrative and answers to any questions.
Just a short walk from the museum, you can walk the beach at Whitefish Point and imagine the raging storms that brought an untimely end to so many ships. On a more fun note, this beach is also noted for the collection of Lake Superior Agates. These are multi-colored stones washed up on the beach and are a prized collection item.