On November 18th, 1914, the steamship C.F. Curtis set sail from Baraga, Michigan to Tonawanda, NY, with two barges loaded with lumber as part of the Edward Hines Lumber Co. fleet – a company described as the “Napoleon of the lumber industry” – only to find itself directly in the path of gale force winds that would envelop it and its crew of 28 in what has come to be known as the “graveyard of the Great Lakes”.
For more than a century, the location of these three doomed vessels had been lost; however, the 2021 sweep by The Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society revealed two unexpected surprises!
The Curtis was first discovered 600 feet below surface level near Grand Marais, MI, with machineries such as grinding wheels still intact and even recognizable red paint on its sides with “Hines” written out in full.
Not far away was a further revelation: the Selden E. Marvin nameplate was still sparkling in pristine condition.
Even more poignant were items like life belts with “Str. Curtis” etched into them and the bodies of two unidentified women – one even wearing a piece of ore up her sleeve – which had been washed ashore nearby some days after their disappearance.
Ric Mixter, an amateur historian from Michigan, commented that whilst there were no warnings for potential disaster and forecasts for “moderate to fresh southwest winds” shifting to the northwest by evening along with some light snow were given that day, those winds did turn out to be gales which can reach up to 54 miles per hour and took down all three ships and their 28-person crew along with them.
Tragically, whilst two crew members managed to make it back alive but succumbed to exhaustion soon after, only one other body was identified, leaving many casualties lost forever at sea.
All that is left now is unearthing their final resting place: Annie M Peterson remains missing, but researchers remain hopeful they will be able to find her soon enough.
Reference: Star Tribune, The Sault News
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