Monday, November 19, 2012

Harbor History - Nov 19th 1886: Sinking of the Wallace

The Robert Wallace, which sank in Lake Superior in both 1886 and 1902. (Image: Great Lakes Vessel Index.)

Sinking of the Wallace 

by Tony Dierckins - Zenith City Online
On this day on Lake Superior in 1886, the steam barge Robert Wallace—as well as her consort, the schooner barge David Wallace—sunk after over a day of being pounded by waves and running ashore at Chocolay, four miles east of Marquette on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, on November 18. They had been taking a combined 104,000 bushels of wheat downlake from Duluth when they encountered the storm. Initially all hands on both vessels were thought loss, and efforts to save them were hampered by the storm. U. S. Life-Savers stationed at Michigan’s Portage Ship Canal, 110 miles away, took a train through the storm—a blizzard on land—in order to reach the crews. Both vessels sank, their loads of grain said to have “fed the wildlife of the Michigan Coast.” All were saved, but elsewhere the storm cost forty lives and financial losses of over $620,000, $300,000 for the two Wallace vessels and their cargo alone Twenty-eight vessels were damaged and most, including the Wallace and the Wallace, were rebuilt and returned to work on the lakes. On November 17, 1902, the Robert Wallace sunk once again, just southeast of Two Harbors with a load of iron ore, but her consort, the Ashland, did not sink—and the Wallace was not raised. Read newspaper coverage here (wallace_11.19.1886_DWT, wallace_11.26.1886_DWTwallace_12.3.1886_DWT) and read about the unlikely rescue here.


  1. The sailors on vessels today do an amazing job and we should all tip our hats to them for the hard and dangerous work they do. But when you look at those who did the job before all the modern technologies came into play, one has to be in awe over the risks they took. Certainly incredible people!

  2. Maybe not the right place to enter this but: we tried to watch the Anderson come in this evening.Both the streaming cameras were so bad-stop-start-stop-start-we finally gave up.Got to hear about 1/2 a salute then out they go again.Love watching them.Thanks

    1. Sorry -- I guess bandwith is still an issue. I will also check antenna alignment.