Wisconsin History Day By Day

Related Web Sites:
Great Lakes Storm of 1913 (Wikipedia)

'November Witches' of the Great Lakes

Great Lakes Storm of 1913

Great Lakes intensify ferocity of passing storms, scientists say


gutter sand tugs

Study Questions:

  • Locate Lake Superior and Lake Michigan on a map. What are some of the major Wisconsin port cities?
  • How long were steam ships used on the Great Lakes?
  • Are modern ships in danger during fierce storms on the Great Lakes? Have there been recent sinkings of ships due to storms?

    U.S. historical events that occurred on November 7:

    1916: Jeannette Rankin, a Republican from Montana, becomes the first woman elected to Congress
    1952: The Tacoma Narrows bridge collapses
    1962: Richard Nixon announces, "You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore."


    November 7, 1913: One of the worst Great Lakes storms started on this date and continued until November 11. Lake Superior was hit particularly hard while Lake Michigan was also affected. In all, 20 ships sank or ran aground on the Great Lakes during the fierce storm.

    Wisconsin State Journal, Nov. 11, 1913


    Many ships Reported Sunk With Consequent Loss of Crews in Terrible Blizzard


    Cleveland and Pittsburg Recover from Paralysis Caused by Hurricane

    Port Huron, Mich., Nov. 11 - The large lake steamer found floating bottom up in Lake Huron, 8 miles north of here, was identified by several local vessel men as the E.A.S. Clark, a 450-foot steel freighter, owned by Captain John Mitchell of Cleveland. The identification is not positive. The Clark carried a crew of 20 men, all of whom are thought lost.

    Duluth, Minn., Nov. 11 - Several boats reported this morning have been accounted for this afternoon. The steamer James E. Davidson of the Tomlinson line passed the Soo all safe. The steamer Frank C. Ball is in Buffalo unloading grain. The Sierra and the Simon Langell are in the local harbor.

    Chicago, Nov. 11 - With two big lake freighters known to have gone to the bottom, half a dozen other ships aground at Great Lake points and in danger of going to pieces, revised estimates of the results of a 48-hour storm put the total number of dead at from 60 to 100 and the property damage mounts into the millions.
    The storm today was sweeping up the St. Lawrence, leaving wrecks of vessels, docks and boathouses in the lake region. Two large cities - Cleveland and Pittsburgh - are recovering from paralysis caused by the storm. West Virginia, on the southern end of the snow and wind storm, was wind and snow-swept today, but the final fury of the hurricane apparently has abated. Gutter sand tugs were hurrying to the rescue of several grounded ships this afternoon, notably the big steamer reported to be pounding to pieces on Manitou Island.
    An unknown 600 foot steel freighter turned turtle several miles north of Port Huron and her entire crew is believed lost.
    Persons aboard the unknown vessel which yesterday was reported on the rocks near Gull Rock lighthouse on Manitou Island, Lake Superior, pounding badly and in danger of breaking up, are believed to be doomed to death. Early today steamers which made futile attempts at rescue reported that the decks of the stranded vessel were awash and that members of the crew were lashed in the rigging. Several of them are believed to be dead from exposure to the 50-mile blizzard, which has been raging for eighty hours.
    Steamers Sink
    From other parts of the state come reports of further disasters on the lakes. It was believed this morning that it will be many days before the number of perished can be learned. Storm signals were displayed today all along the upper lakes.
    The passenger steamer Huronic, which yesterday went aground on Whitefish point, Lake Superior, was still held early today. Ice-coated vessels which arrived at the Soo reported that she was badly damaged, but in no immediate danger of breaking up.
    Reports from Alpena today said that there was slight chance that the Canada reef near Sulphur Island, in Thurday Bay, could be saved.
    Damage to towns on Lake Michigan will be much greater than originally estimated.
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