Caspian, Mich. (WZMQ) – The Iron County Museum kicked off its first major event under the leadership of new director K.L. Long this past weekend. The highly anticipated History Happy Hour drew a large crowd of history enthusiasts eager to explore the museum’s exhibits, and enjoy an evening of drinks and mingling.
Attendees had the opportunity to grab a refreshing beverage at Toti’s Tavern before making their way to the museum’s picturesque courtyard. The atmosphere was buzzing with excitement as guests engaged in lively conversations and admired the historical artifacts and gift shop.
The highlight of the evening was a captivating history presentation on one of the most extraordinary shipwrecks in Great Lakes’ maritime history. Renowned author, and U.P. Notable book author for 2023 through the Upper Peninsula Publishers and Author’s Association, relayed intriguing facts from his latest publication, “Shipwrecked and Rescued, Cars and Crew: The City of Bangor.”
The audience was enthralled by the tales of bravery and survival amidst treacherous waters. However, this story wasn’t just about another shipwreck on Lake Superior during the month of November.
In his captivating presentation, author Larry Jorgensen shared intriguing insights about the unique shipwreck of “The City of Bangor” in the Keweenaw region. Jorgensen began by highlighting the staggering number of shipwrecks on the Great Lakes, estimated to be around 6,000. However, only one shipwreck, that of “The City of Bangor,” left hundreds of Chrysler cars on the bottom of Lake Superior.
Jorgensen revealed that the ill-fated ship was carrying an astonishing cargo of 240 brand-new Chrysler cars, shedding light on the surprising number of automobiles resting at the bottom of the Great Lakes today. The ship embarked on its journey from Detroit, but the reason behind its name, “The City of Bangor,” piqued the audience’s curiosity. It turns out that the ship’s builder, hailing from Bangor, Maine, decided to honor his hometown by naming one of his boats after it.
The presentation took an unexpected turn as Jorgensen shared that the ship also carried six Whippets, a type of automobile produced in Toledo. The inclusion of these lesser-known vehicles added another layer of intrigue to the story.
As Jorgensen delved deeper into the ship’s ill-fated journey, he revealed that the ship, originally built as an ore carrier, had been sold and remodeled by a different company. The captain of the ship mistakenly believed they were west of Copper Harbor when, in reality, they were east of it.
Realizing their error, they attempted to turn around but ended up grounding the ship southeast of the harbor.
A fortunate twist of fate occurred when two crew members from another grounded ship discovered a telephone in the town of Gay and urgently contacted the Coast Guard in Eagle Harbor. The Coast Guard promptly arrived at the scene and noticed “The City of Bangor” abandoned on a reef. The crew on board was spotted, and the Coast Guard captain instructed them to build a fire as a signal for rescue.
Using a smaller boat, the Coast Guard captain approached the stranded crew. They were eventually taken in by a local family who owned a farm in the area. The crew, consisting of 29 members, had sustained various injuries, and some were in critical condition. The captain contacted Calumet for a doctor, and the injured crew members were transported to a hospital in Laurium.
The author shared that several crew members spent months recovering in the hospital, with some even marrying nurses, and deciding to make the Keweenaw region their permanent home. The patriarch of the family, who had provided the shipwrecked crew with shelter, later became the sheriff of the area, showcasing the lasting impact of this extraordinary shipwreck on the community. His wife went on to become the ‘unofficial’ Undersheriff, and made a name for herself as a famous woman of Michigan history.
As a surprise announcement, the author revealed plans to release a new book by next summer, titled “Make it go in the Snow, People and Ideas in the History of Snowmobiling.”
“For sure by next summer, and hopefully before that,” informed Jorgensen. “I’m about two-thirds of the way through it,” he informed.
This upcoming publication promises to delve into the fascinating origins of snowmobiling, exploring unique inventions such as the old Ford with a track and even earlier prototypes.
Excitement is already building for the next History Happy Hour, featuring guest speaker Bill Jamerson. Scheduled for July 28th from 6 to 8 PM Central Time, Jamerson’s presentation is expected to captivate attendees with his extensive knowledge of local history. With the event’s success, the Iron County Museum continues to solidify its position as a hub for historical education and community engagement.
To get your own copy of Jorgensen’s book, titled Shipwrecked and Rescued, Cars and Crew: The City of Bangor, filled with fantastic imagery and an imaginative nonfiction re-telling this unusual tale, visit: https://shipwreckedandrescued.com/
The Iron County Historical Museum and Society is made possible with the help of volunteer efforts, and is currently in search of adding more volunteers to its staff. To find out more about how to volunteer at the museum, please visit: