THUNDER BAY – Local – Most ships sink quickly amidst a fierce storm or they pile up on rocks to be dashed to pieces by the waves. A few, however, sink slowly or in shallow water, giving salvagers time to take what they can off the vessel and for photographers to snap shots like this dramatic view of the steamship Emperor.
At 525 feet in length, the Emperor was a large Canada Steamship Lines bulk freighter designed for use on the Upper Great Lakes. She was built at the Collingwood Shipyards in 1911 for the Inland Navigation Company but joined the CSL line-up two years later appearing often at the Lakehead.
In early June of 1947, she was on her way east to Ashtabula, Ohio, having taken on a load of Steep Rock iron ore in Port Arthur, when she struck the Canoe Rocks just off Isle Royale. Breaking in two, her stern sank in deep water taking twelve men with her.
The bow and wheelhouse, however, barely broke the surface as this image attests. To this day, the wreck is said to be haunted.
The Thunder Bay Museum is working on a traveling exhibit on the subject of Great Lakes shipwrecks. If you have any first-hand experience with shipwrecks, or stories you’d like to share, contact Diane Robnik at the Museum, (807) 623-0801.
A Moment with the Museum:
Text by Tory Tronrud, Thunder Bay Museum
Photo courtesy of the Thunder Bay Museum