Bloggin' the Whole Story
Thanks to everyone who frequents this website for the photos and blogs. On this blog site there will be a variety of photos and descriptive posts. Some posts involve extensive research, both from locales and supplemented from the internet, while others are posted for the simple photo alone. Please enjoy and don't be afraid to give back your comments, good or bad.
Shipwrecked with No Place to Go -
The 444 foot long steel steamer City of Bangor with a 30 year long career on the Great Lakes had run aground just off the Keweenaw Peninsula near Eagle River on Lake Superior November 30, 1926. It had been en route upbound from Detroit to Duluth Minnesota with 248 brand new Chrysler and Whippet automobiles onboard when it ran into a rock reef along the shoreline while trying to seek safe harbor from a gale force wind freezing blizzard. The following day with the ship now covered like an iceberg due to the lake spray freezing over the entire vessel, the Coast Guard Life Saving Station at Eagle Harbor spotted the ship while returning to Eagle Harbor with the rescued crew of another grounded ship, the Thomas Maytham. After dropping off the Maytham 19 man crew in Eagle Harbor, the Coast Guard rescue boat headed back to pick up the 29 man crew of the Bangor. That crew had made it to shore with their own lifeboats but had spent a cold night in the heavily wood and remote area of the peninsula. They had suffered severe frostbite and hypothermia while spending the night without proper clothing or food supplies in the sub-zero temperatures. Some would have to be hospitalized.
By February 1927, a total of 202 cars were salvaged from the below deck cargo hold. These cars were in excellent condition because the cargo bulkheads held firm despite the engine room being totally flooded. There had been 18 cars spiked down above deck but those were all lost into the lake and swept overboard during the storm. These would later wash up on local beaches when spring arrived. The salvaged cars were driven off ship by way of a make-shift ramp of snow and ice. The cars were driven along the frozen shoreline to nearby Copper Harbor and left there until the following spring. Of the 202 salvaged, not all were worthy of reconditioning. Those that were got transported to Calumet Michigan for shipment back to Detroit by way of rail car. Some cars remained in Copper Harbor and were proudly driven by local towns people for many years after. The cars taken to Detroit were resold in the Detroit area. No word as to whether the buyers were told of the ordeal or if they had to pay the destination charges twice !
One of the 1927 Chrysler cars salvaged is in a local museum in Eagle Harbor as are several surviving items from the Coast Guard life-saving station. The station no longer exists here but was located across the harbor from the Eagle Harbor Lghthouse shown in this photo.
The One Legged Lightkeeper -
Captain James S. Donahue served in the eighth Michigan Infantry during the Civil War. In the Battle of Wilderness he lost his leg from the thigh down. Despite this, he was hired in 1874 at the age of 32 to become only the second keeper of the South Haven Pierhead Lighthouse. Being a light keeper even with two legs was a daunting task. They were typically on call 24/7/365. Donahue performed all his tasks admirably for 36 years which included walking the 75 foot long elevated walkway with crutches on open planks, in all kinds of weather regardless of snow, ice, fog, sun or rain. The lantern required lighting every evening and had to be resupplied with adequate quantities of oil. He also had to keep records of all events including weather, visitors, mariner accidents, repair the residence and maintain the life saving light, as well as keep all supplies ready for all storms that might come. Over his career, he and his son(s) were responsible for saving the lives of 17 ship-wrecked seaman either stranded on grounded ships and/or in danger of drowning. The tasks were relentless, day after day and the records show he never missed a day nor shirked his responsibilities. His job was not without personal tragedy. In 1875 his first wife died of lung disease, leaving only him and his son to fend for themselves. He married again in 1876 and had 5 more sons and a daughter, all shown in a family photo along with the family dog in 1893.
The original lighthouse was a wooden tower some 30 feet tall supported by pillars and connected to the mainland with an elevated wooden walkway from the keeper's house on the bluff overlooking Lake Michigan. The original wooden tower was lit in 1872 and in 1900 was relocated another 400 feet out into the lake when the pier was extended. Eventually it was totally replaced with the current cast iron cylindrical tower in 1903 and painted white (more on why most Lake Michigan lighthouses are painted red in later blogs, stay tuned). Donahue retired in 1910 after 36 years of service at the South Haven Pierhead Light. The United States Lighthouse Service, which was a newly established governing agency begun in 1910, awarded him a silver medal in recognition of his service of 36 years. However, the town folk of South Haven were so outraged that he received only a "silver" medallion that they had their own "Gold" medal forged to present to him during the retirement ceremony. Donahue died in 1917 and was buried with full honors.
A Fishing Village
The Island of ONA was once a thriving population of 50. Over the last six decades it has dwindled to about 40. Once considered a great location for accessing the abundant fishing banks of the northern Atlantic, the fishing community of the island suffered from the decimation of the Northern Atlantic Cod due to environmental reasons as well as over fishing. As a result, profits from fishing decreased to the point that a basic living could no longer be sustained. Fishing boats still work off this island but in limited activity.
Over the past twenty years or so, the island has maintained a steady increase in tourist trade with artist studios and pottery shops. The island is small enough that tourists can easily walk the island without a car. On the south island of Husøy exists an ancient Viking burial ground.
The island is really two islands, the larger island of Husøy and the smaller island of Ona, jointed together by a small bridge over a 15 meter wide waterway. The ferry docks on Ona. Upon docking, one is immediately greeted by the presence of the prominient red painted cast iron lighthouse built on top of a rock cliff in 1867 which still operates but is now automated. The light only operates from August through May because the remaining months are lit by the midnight sun. The rock cliff outcropping the lighthouse is built on is named Onakalven. Accessed only by ferry four times a day, the excursion from the west coast mainland takes about two hours and stops at several other islands on the way. A very pleasurable trip if you should ever decide to visit the west central coast of Norway.
One of a Kind -
The Eureka Slough bridge just off Highway 101 in north Eureka is owned by the Southern & Northwestern Railroad. It is now abandoned due to a deteriorated condition and has be deemed unsafe for all kinds of traffic. It has been replaced by another bridge nearby. Originally built as a tower swing bridge in 1916, it was revamped as a extremely simple vertical lift deck plate girder bridge in 1972. The total length of the 19 foot wide bridge is 720 feet, yet the lift portion is only about 90 feet in length. In this photo, the remnants of the old swing bridge center round pier can be seen still retaining the original ring gear elements. When it was revamped, it became the only vertical lift bridge in the State of California that operated without cables, pulleys, or counterweights but rather hydraulically by way of a diesel powered compressor.
The abandonment of the bridge has led to colorful graffiti signatures considered by some locals as an eye sore but as a treasured historical landmark by others.
Kolob Canyon in the morning light -
An early spring morning in Kolob Canyon, Zion National Park West. From the Visitor Center at 5076 feet we headed up the Kolob Canyon Road past Paria Point and the Lee Pass Trailhead, then up to the Timber Creek Overlook Trailhead, elevation about 6200 feet, and 2 1/2 miles from the visitor center. The area had just gotten a dusting the night before and the air was definitely brisk and invigorating. Looking east here across Timber Creek Valley to the Timber Top Mountains.
Portland Head Lighthouse at Dusk -
in 1787, at the personal direction of George Washington, two masons from Falmouth (modern-day Portland) were given the task of building a lighthouse with a fund of $1500 in under four years. Because the fledgling government of the United States started out with very little money, Washington told the masons to use local materials they could find along the shore and from nearby fields. The tower was built of rubblestone and was to be 58 feet tall according to the plans they were given. However, when completed and the masons climbed to the top of the tower they realized it was too short and the light could not be seen beyond the nearby headlands. They raised it another 20 feet and that problem was solved. George Washington appointed the first light keeper Joseph Greenleaf in 1791 who was a patriot that found favor with the first president. For the first two years of his duties, Greenleaf was not paid the money owed him. He died in 1795 while still the lightkeeper.
To the far distant right in this photo can be seen the Ram Island Ledge Lighthouse built in 1905. It was built on a series of rock ledges that had become treacherous to navigate around while entering the harbor. It has a twin known as the Graves Light in Boston. The lighthouse was built of granite quarried from Vinalhaven, Maine. Not much granite comes from there anymore, now it is mainly lobster. The lighthouse was put up for sale in 2010 and after no interest was shown by locals nor government organizations it was sold to a private citizen for $190,000.
Bodie Island Lighthouse -
It was 1837 and something had to be done. Scores of ships were in constant peril along the Outer Banks of South Carolina due to treacherous navigation along the Carolina's coastline. So many shipwrecks in fact that the area became known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic. What few residents there were here at the time would find bodies washed-up on shore as a fairly common occurrence. There were multiple attempts to build lighthouses in the area north of Cape Hatteras, the first of which were on Pea Island south of Oregon inlet. The first Light began construction in 1847 but had to be torn down in the early 1850's due to a leaning foundation. Another replacement completed with a better foundation in 1859 was blown-up by Confederate troops in 1861 retreating to the south during the Civil War fearing the lighthouse would be used by the oncoming Union troops as a lookout that would give away Confederate troop locations. But in 1871 a permanent replacement had begun just south of Nags Head South Carolina at Bodie Island. Completed in 1872, this lighthouse would drastically reduce maritime casualties from tragic ship wrecks. The current 165 foot tall light was built with bricks from Baltimore and ironwork from a New York foundry. It was equipped with a first order fresnel lens bright enough to assist mariners setting their course regardless of whether they were navigating north or south of Cape Hatteras.
Lighthouse keepers had their share of ordeals when they first arrived, not the least of which was the fact it was secluded with the only access by way of boat. Families of the light keepers lived on nearby Roanoke Island where their children could attend school. They would visit for the summers only. Venomous snakes populated the high grass areas around the lighthouse property. Even today there are elevated walkways for visitors to avoid the snakes while strolling the surrounding areas around the lighthouse. Weather on the Outer Banks also led to extremely high ground water and tidal surges during treacherous winter storms. In 1932 the lighthouse was automated and control of it was transferred to the National Park Service in 1953. The lighthouse has undergone several renovations the most recent of which was in 2013 and it remains an operational navigational aid.
The Candy Striper -
The West Quoddy Lighthouse is the easternmost lighthouse in the contiguous U.S. Built on a easterly-pointing peninsula in southeastern Lubec, Maine where it keeps mariners safe while passing through the Quoddy Narrows between Lubec and Campobello Island Canada. A lighthouse was first built here in 1808 but was so poorly built in had to be rebuilt in 1831. The current one is a painted striped brick tower as shown above and was built in 1857. The stripes were painted shortly after it was built. It was automated in 1988. It stands 47 feet tall and the third order fresnel lens is 83 feet above sea level. The light keeps mariners safe as they pass through the Quoddy Narrows that border the U.S. and Canada. The original lighthouse in 1808 was built for $5000, and the lightkeepers yearly salary was a mere $250. Congress had appropriated an amount of $15,000 when it was rebuilt in 1857 and the lightkeepers salary was raised to $450 per year.
In 1990 U.S 25 cent postage stamp depicted the lighthouse with only 13 stripes rather than the actual 15 stripes. The only other lighthouse with red and white painted horizontal stripes in the U.S. is on Assateague Island on the eastern coastline of Virginia. The red stripes were common place with Canadian lighthouses because it made the towers stand out against the snow. The color red has the longest visual wavelength so it can be seen the furthest out to sea. The West Quoddy light can be seen about 18 nautical miles out to sea.
Shipwrecked - The Squall
Along State Road 166 to Castine, Maine lies the Morse Cove Marina. The small little two lane rural road is a round about way to get to the Dice Head Lighthouse at the entrance to Penobscot Bay. Hardly a highly travelled tourist thoroughfare, the small road is lined with alder and birch trees that easily conceal the entrance to the marina. In a rush to get to the lighthouse, I had time for no other distractions that day, I was on a mission, after all, to photograph another lighthouse. But out of nowhere while traveling down this rural two lane my eye caught a glimpse of a burnt orange object near the water of Penobscot Bay and I knew i had to investigate. The object was undistinguishable from the roadside so I turned into the Morse Cove Marina and parked. I approached the shanty one story wooden office structure and walked inside but no one was there. Stepping back outside I yelled "hello, anyone here. . . " while closing the door behind me. But no answer. It was lunchtime and so it must have been for everyone who worked there. I walked over to the large dry dock hanger on the other side of the sloping concrete boat launch ramp leading to the water. Again, I yelled, "anyone here", but again no answer. So I decided to head down to the water. There was a long narrow elevated wooden dock leading to the rusty ship seemingly stranded by the extreme low tide at the end of the dock. Despite the tide, it was obviously a long term resident of the marina. A definite salvage undertaking not for the faint of heart.
Rather than head down to the boat on that precarious wooden dock, I ventured down to the sandy rock beach to photograph the ship from high water eye-level. It was quite an image, stranded by the low tide, set against the bright-blue Maine sky laced with dark gray clouds. When a photographer sees an image like this, ripe for the taking, the shutter must fly.
I do not know much about this ship called "The Squall", an obvious salvaged marine vessel that has seen better days. Is there a hope to restore this vessel ? Or is it strictly for salvage metal ? I knew I could not let the opportunity pass me by. It is the same point I have tried to make in previous blogs, such as in Victoria Beach Ledge in March of 2014, http://www.capistranobeachphotography.com/blog/2014/3/victoria-beach-ledge. While looking for the obvious, the unexpected may appear. Turn around and take a minute or two to see what else there is.
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