December 7th has been etched into the American consciousness as one of the deadliest days in its maritime history. On
However there was another maritime tragedy that took place on the same date some 32 years earlier.
Lake Erie has a long history of being one of the most trecherous of the Great Lake, with powerful storms seemingly to appear out of nowhere.
And as the Marquette & Bessemer No.2 made it way north away from the shores of Ohio, there was a great storm brewing on the horizon.
The blistery winter storm suddenly blew out of the west and slammed mightily onto the Great Lakes with winds that were estimated to have reached at least 90 miles per hour. The storm’s might was so furious that it actually dropped the temperature 45 degrees within a 24 hour time period.
Battered to and fro the Marquette & Bessemer No 2 tried in vain to criss cross the Lake in a doomed attempt to ride out the storm. The frigid assault of the storm and an unfortunate streak of bad luck sealed the fate of the ship and its 31 passangers and crew. The ship, its cargo and crew went to their watery grave in the deep depths of Lake Erie on the evening of December 9th 1909.
Last reported accounts tell that they saw the ship struggle in the waves off Port Stanley, and it seemed to have turned west. It was never seen again. Legend has it that about the time the ship went down the Captain’s wife who was on the Southern Coast of lake Erie at Conneaut that night heard the mournful pathetic blow of the ship’s whistle as it sank beneath the waves.
Three days later on December 12th a lone lifeboat was found washed ashore 15 miles from the city of
Despite the great length of the ship and the shallow depths where it was supposed to have sank, the wreck of the Marquette & Bessemer No 2 has never been found. At more than a hundred meters the ship was as long as a Football field. Few such large ships have eluded devout hunters of sunken ships along the Great Lakes. Despite thousands of dollars by private entrepreneurs and scientists, and hour upon hours of diving expeditions, the site of the ship’s resting place has never been found.
But it seems that since it sank below the icy waves of Lake Erie on that dark December night almost 100 years ago the Marquette & Bessemer No 2 has been seen and heard on multiple occasions.
Many times since its untimely demise sailors have heard the ghostly moaning whistle of the ship when they are the only vessel for miles around. An old fashioned whistle that seems to struggle in a mournful wail that bemoans its fate. Much as the same sound the Captains wife had reportedly heard that December night as the ship gave into the struggle with the pounding waves.
It also seems to be a common occurrence all across the beachfront of Lake Erie in both Pennsylvania and Ohio for a phantom ship to appear on the horizon just for a few minutes before it fades away into a haze. Now ore carriers are still a common site on most of Lake Erie, and it is not unusual to see them slowly crawl across the horizon as you relax on a Lake Erie beach during a hot summer day. But no ore carrier of today has that old configuration and belches dark smoke from two forward smoke stacks. And none of them just fade away into the horizon. The usual beachgoer may be too caught up to take much notice, but I have heard on more than one occasion where someone was taking in the panorama of Lake Erie to simply see a distant ship in the shape of the Marquette & Bessemer No 2 just blink out of existence.
Now these of course could just be visual tricks or hallucinations, but James Donahue in his article “Ghost Ship Marquette & Bessemer No. 2”, relates that “Adding to the mystery is that the wreck has reportedly been seen from the air on clear days. It has been sighted about eight miles northeast of Conneaut, in about 10 fathoms of water. Yet no one has located it by boat.” (http://perdurabo10.tripod.com/ships/id173.html)
To this day divers of the
But perhaps all these divers and researchers have to do to find the old ship is to sail out in a lonely dark night and wait to hear the mournful wail of the whistle to echo across the
Until Next Time,