Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Ghost ship update

Tuesday's London Free Press reports that later this summer two teams of divers, one Canadian and one American, will set off into Lake Erie's sandy depths to try and solve one of the the lake's most closely guarded secrets -- the fate of the long-lost car ferry Marquette & Bessemer No. 2.

A summary: On the night of December 9, 1909, the ferry set off from Conneaut, Ohio for Port Stanley, Ontario, loaded with rail cars. She never got there; about halfway across the lake, the Marquette & Bessemer No. 2 ran into a raging seventy-knot gale. Unable to find shelter, the ferry was eventually swamped, it is thought, and went to the bottom, killing her entire crew of thirty-six.

What's frustrated divers ever since is the fact that the Marquette & Bessmer No. 2, a 350-foot monstrosity, has never been found. Even though she's not particularly valuable (although a myth persists that $50,000 was put into her safe just before she sailed), the archaeological community would love to know where a ship that big could possibly hide in such a shallow lake.

It's a question that, it's hoped, a little international rivalry might help solve.

To read the full London Free Press story, click here.


Patrick said...

I just found you blog and I look forward to your book about Lake Erie. My Great Grandfather was John C. McLeod (first mate of M&B#2) and I'm always on the look out for another perspective about the ship. Hope it makes it into the book.

Chad Fraser said...

Hi, Patrick. Thanks so much for dropping by and commenting.

I think the Marquette & Bessemer is one of the more intriguing Lake Erie stories; it's amazing they haven't found her yet. Unfortunately, I was only able to give it a passing reference in the book (maybe something for the next one?), but I have included the story of the wreck of the Clarion, which burned and then sank off Point Pelee during the same storm. Mark Bourrie wrote about the M & B in his book, True Canadian Stories of the Great Lakes. The story is also in Dwight Boyer's book, Ghost Ships of the Great Lakes.

Happy hunting.