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.