The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Door County Advocate (Sturgeon Bay, WI), July 27, 1901

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The mystery of the lost vessel – A sensation was caused in marine circles by the announcement of Light-Keeper Young at Menominee that he witnessed the burning of some craft off the entrance of that harbor at an early hour Saturday morning. Dispatches have recklessly sent to the papers describing the probable fate of the entire crew of some unknown schooner or steambarge, and one reported that the tug John Leathern of this port was engaged in a search for the wreckage. The latter tug, it may beformentioned, was at Racine at the time with a couple of stone laden scows. Marinette and Menominee correspondents make some of the poorest guesses possible when they try to report from there what is going on at this port.

The whole story started by the light-keeper seeing a fire out in the bay. Supposing it to be a vessel he reported it to the Menominee fire tug, which immediately set out in search of the supposed wreck, but found nothing, the fire having gone out and no sign of wreckage left to tell the tale – everything was reduced to ashes or went to the bottom.

What made the light keeper imagine he witnessed this weird and distressing calamity can only be explained in one way, and that is this:

Directly opposite the entrance to Menominee Harbor is the mouth of this bay, ordinarily so. A few miles from the north point at a high elevation, were two large barns owned by Joseph Elliott, a farmer. At this very time the disaster was reported from Menominee, these buildings were struck by lightning and destroyed by fire . When light keeper Young looked out across the waters it is largely possible, and very likely, that some schooner or other craft may have crossed the line of vision between he and the fire, which would give it the appearance of a burning boat most vividly. By the time he had given the alarm, and a tug had gone in search of the distressed (?) craft, the fire had died out and the boat disappeared in the darkness, giving rise to the impression that she had burned t the water’s edge, and sank with all on board. It at least made a very plausible and acceptable story, and one which was readily taken up by the metropolitan press, and dished out in great chunks by enterprising (?) correspondents, who were only too glad to accept the story as genuine, without investigation, regardless of the anxiety and distress it might cause the hundreds of owners and thousands of people who had relations sailing on schooners or steamers.

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July 27, 1901
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Terry Pepper
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Door County Advocate (Sturgeon Bay, WI), July 27, 1901