Postcards from the Wreck of the Steamer Crescent City

The steamer Crescent City was driven into rocks on the shore of Lake Superior northeast of Duluth 115 years ago today — Nov. 28, 1905. It was one of numerous wrecks during a storm that was most famous for sinking the Mataafa near the Duluth Ship Canal. Nine of 24 Mataafa crew members perished; everyone on Crescent City survived.

Various postcards of the Crescent City wreck feature the same caption on the front:

Wreck of the Steamer “Crescent City”: Driven ashore two miles east of Lester Park, Duluth, Minnesota. During the great storm of Nov. 28, 1905. Her crew escaped to shore by using a ladder as a bridge.

Winds reportedly reached 70 m.p.h. during the storm. The Buffalo Evening News reported the gale swung Crescent City’s stern around “so that the ship was broadside to shore and the stern was so close that Capt. Frank Rice and his crew threw a ladder to the shore and walked off in safety, abandoning the ship to her fate.”

The freighter had been heading to Two Harbors and was blown off-course. It hit rocks near the Lakewood Pumping Station in Lakewood Township, just northeast of Duluth. The vessel was finally released from the shore on June 7, 1906, and arrived for dry docking at Lorain, Ohio, on June 20. It was later salvaged and repaired.

Crescent City was owned by the Pittsburg Steamship Company, built in Chicago in 1897, and its home port was Duluth.

2 Comments

michigander

about 10 months ago

Greetings from northern Michigan. I was cleaning out old bookmarks and remembered this blog. I don't know how many people look at these posts anymore but I hope you keep posting.

OldF1

about 10 months ago

The interesting fact about these early wrecks is engine capacity. They had tiny engines for all the boat. They simply were at the mercy of the Lake during these big storms.

Much later the owners started up sizing the engines to give these boats more power to plow through the storms. It was expensive to put in  more powerful engines, so was not a quick thing.

Over and over again you see the boats simply floundered, with incredibly underpowered power plants. Many of these underpowered boats found there end being towed as barges behind newer boats, because it was too expensive to put more powerful power plants in them.

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