Guest Author - Sharon Bejin
When thinking about the Great Lakes, Lake Superior and Lake Michigan come to mind. Perhaps because they are closest to me and I have had opportunity to visit them over the years. The lakes are loaded with history and the massive waters have taken part in some sort of transportation system over time. Many ships have sailed the lakes and some have passed through without incident, while others have unfortunately met their fate. Visitors shouldn’t be surprised to learn that many ships have been engulfed by the Great Lakes and many crew members have lost their lives when their ships sank in the icy cold waters. These freshwater lakes have been and will always be a burial ground for the sunken ships and the crew members who never made it home.
For those who are interested in learning more about the history of the lakes or the ships, there are museums available to the public. In Michigan, the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum makes sure the stories about ships and their crew members are kept alive with plenty of artifacts from various ships. The museum allows visitors to see first hand various parts of ships. Some interesting items in the museum are shipping chains, anchors, diving equipment, and thick ropes used on the ships. There is plenty for any history enthusiast to see at the museum. Anything to do with ships is on display and allows visitors to see what was aboard the ships that once sailed these large lakes.
The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum is located in Whitefish Point, Michigan. This museum is especially meaningful to those who live in the area because of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald off the shoreline on November 10, 1975. The shipwreck took 29 crew members with it when it sank. The story of the sinking and loss of life is vividly told in the song by Gordon Lightfoot, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” The museum also displays the 200-pound bronze bell that was recovered from the Edmund Fitzgerald in addition to other historical information about the ship.
Whether visiting the museum or standing on the shoreline looking out onto any of the Great Lakes, it is easy to think of all the ships that traveled these waters and the challenges they faced.