1-231-445-5548 sales@livnfresh.com

On Lake Superior, known for its massive size, sea vessels can easily succumb to treacherous waters brought on by a vicious storm. Here are some of the most memorable shipwrecks in this greatest of great lakes.


SS Henry B. Smith

This massive steel-hulled freighter measures about 525 feet long, 55 feet wide and 31 feet high. The SS Henry B. Smith was built specifically to withstand strong storms in the Great Lakes. However, the massive freighter was no match for the ‘Great Lake Storm’ on November 9, 1913. Carrying a cargo of iron ore, she was lost near Marquette, Michigan and all 25 people aboard the ship perished with her.

Even though SS Henry B. Smith does not have any chilling stories behind it, it hunted explorers for more than a century. After her disappearance, the SS Henry B. Smith was the most sought after ‘ghost wreck’ for more than 100 years. She was finally found in 2013 at a depth of 535 feet and near Marquette.


The Hudson

Built in 1888 in Detroit, The Hudson was a propeller ship measuring 288 feet and was one of the finest vessels on the Great Lakes at the time. While crossing Lake Superior from Duluth on September 16, 1901, the ship sank near Keweenaw Point. The Hudson probably succumbed to a vicious storm while carrying a flax and wheat cargo and was never seen again. Her haul was prone to shifting in big waves which likely caused it to lose balance and sink.   

However, that’s not the end of her story, for The Hudson made her own legend.

According to hearsay, a tugboat captain and his mate were traveling Lake Superior on September 16, 1940. As they approached Keweenaw Point, they saw a rusty ship covered with mud and heading towards their direction. The tug captain was able to avoid collision with the ship. As instinct dictated him, he boarded the muddy ship to see if it was in distress but was only ‘greeted’ with the ghost of The Hudson’s captain and crew. The ghost allegedly told the tug captain they relive the sinking of the ship every year on September 16th. Frightened, the captain jumped overboard and swam back towards his tugboat in icy cold waters.


SS Western Reserve

The SS Western Reserve was one of the first steel freighters to set sail on the Great Lakes.  The ship is 41 feet wide and measures 301 feet long. On August 30, 1892, SS Western Reserve was to get a load of iron ore but broke in half and sank in a fairly mild storm. The sinking occurred offshore Deer Park, Michigan.

After the incident, a report surfaced about the improper construction of the Western Reserve. The ship was allegedly built with weak steel that was contaminated with sulfur and phosphorus. This led to the creation of new laws and testing regulations for steel used in shipbuilding.

Out of the crew of 27, which included the owner and the famous banker Peter Minch and his family, only one man survived the disaster: the wheelsman named Harry Stewart. Another strange thing about the sinking of Western Reserve tells about a dream of Captain Truedell of the Great Lakes Life-Saving Service. In his dream, he reportedly visualized every detail of the disaster. In fact, the dream was so realistic he even recognized the body of Minch when they found it on shore.

Today, some urban legends claim the Western Reserve still appears as a ghostly apparition near Deer Park. It’s said that during good weather, especially on calm nights, the voices and laughter of those aboard the ship linger from the lake’s water.


SS Bannockburn a.k.a. “The Flying Dutchman of Lake Superior”

This massive ship has an unusual profile as a vessel, measuring 245 feet long and 40 feet wide, many seamen at the time would recognize her from afar. During her service, she became a familiar sight on the Great Lakes while hauling grain for the Montreal Transportation Company.  However, on the night of November 21, 1902, while carrying a load of wheat on her war to Soo Lock from Port Arthur she disappeared without a trace.

Its disappearance is considered one of the biggest mysteries of sea vessels lost at sea on Lake Superior. All 21 people vanished along with her and no bodies were ever recovered. Aside from a life preserver, no other items were seen from the Bannockburn.

Before her disappearance, the Bannockburn had 2 major incidents. In April 1897, she ran aground near Snake Island. The following October, she struck Welland Canal and was submerged in 9 feet of water. During these two incidents, no one was hurt and no major damage was reported.

On the same day of her disappearance, she ran aground again after leaving Fort William and turned back to port. After assessing that the Bannockburn didn’t suffer any damage, she set sail on her final voyage, never to return.

However, the Bannockburn still apparently continues to sail Lake Superior to this day. One particular story can attest to the urban legend – the crew of the freighter Walter A. Hutchison claimed they saw the Bannockburn a few hundred yards away from them. The captain tried to avoid the Bannockburn and headed northeast. They all saw the Bannockburn sail past them only to run aground before disappearing again. If the Walter A. Hutchison’s captain had not changed its course, the rocks would have destroyed the ship.


Enjoy spooky things like this? These ships offer some great fodder for ghost stories when camping around the Great Lakes. Head out there with some friends and a have few cold ones that stay cold with a Michigan D Koozie.