Ships and Shipwrecks Stories from the Great Lakes
From the day that French explorer Robert Cavelier de La Salle launched the Griffin in 1679 to the 1975 sinking of the celebrated Edmund Fitzgerald, thousands of commercial ships have sailed on the vast and perilous waters of the Great Lakes. In a harbinger of things to come, on the return leg of its first trip in late summer 1679, the Griffin disappeared and has never been seen again. In the centuries since then, the records show that an alarming number of shipwrecks have occurred on the Great Lakes. If vessels that wrecked but were later repaired and returned to service are included, the number certainly swells into the thousands. Most did not mysteriously vanish like the Griffin. Instead, they suffered the occupational hazards of every lake boat: collisions, groundings, strands, fires, boiler explosions, and capsizes. Many of these disasters took the lives of crews and passengers. The fearsome wrath of the storms that brew over the Great Lakes has challenged and defeated some of the staunchest vessels constructed in the shipyards of port cities along the U.S. and Canadian lakeshores. Here Richard Gebhart tells the tales of some of these ships and their captains and crews, from their launches to their sad demises—or sometimes, their celebrated retirements. This volume is a must-read for anyone intrigued by the maritime history of the Great Lakes.