Lake Superior Aquaman on patrol.
Thanks to citizen @wiscontron for bringing this to my attention. It reads “Lake Superior Aquaman” with a picture of a trident, then someone has followed that with “<- The Admiral Nelson of Great Lakes.”
In 1861, Minnesota Governor Alexander Ramsey was in Washington D.C. when the Confederates started the Civil War. He was in the Oval Office when Lincoln received the fateful telegram detailing the attack on Fort Sumter in South Carolina — the most serious in a string of Southern aggressions, including the seizing of Federal armories across Dixie. Heeding Lincoln’s call for troops, Ramsey walked right up to the President and said, “Mr. President, let Minnesota be the first state to commit 1,000 volunteers to answer this latest outrage from the disloyal states.”
Ramsey’s commitment created the famous fighting force known as the Minnesota First Infantry Regiment. They were the Civil War’s earliest northern enlistees, and they saved the Union at Gettysburg as every Minnesota schoolchild knows. On the third day of that pivotal battle, after Pickett’s Charge, Pvt. Marshall Sherman of St. Paul emerged with the scarred battle flag of the 28th Virginia Infantry. Virginia whines about it to this day but we’re not giving it back neener neener neener.
The MV Sophia F. Janus was built, launched, and christened in 1977. It was among the first of 13 “thousand-footers” to sail the inland seas: 1013 feet long, 113 feet wide, 566 feet hull depth, containing 1,300 tons of oil for its four-story engine. It could carry more than 90,000 tons of cargo, with a crew of 23 souls. The ship was an innovative mixed-use tanker-bulk hauler, with three chemical tank holds and two bulk holds. It had a 250-foot discharge boom for the self-unloading of bulk cargo at a rate of 6,000 tons per hour. The vessel holds numerous cargo records. In the superstitious lore of the sailors, however, because a dock worker was crushed during launch, the Janus was considered cursed. Even the infinite dilution of the Great Lakes could not dissolve the stain of blood.
Communication was lost with the Janus in a storm in 1982, and it appeared to have sunk without a trace after leaving Duluth. No flotsam, oil slick, or fuel spill was discovered in the area of her last known location, which was the middle of Lake Superior.
I have lost the reference, but I read somewhere that when the French explorer Sir Duluth heard rumors of an underground lake beneath Lake Superior, he quipped in his native tongue, “Lac d’Enfer” (literally: “Lake of Hell”). This nomenclature was mistranslated by English-speakers, becoming anglicized as “Lake Inferior” — an insidious malapropism that replaced the original meaning.
Sept. 8, 1870
Copper-helmet diver William Bitter found an entrance to Lake Inferior. He was working by the breakwater wall for the city of Duluth, offshore of what is now the Lakewalk. A large storm had damaged the wall, and he was conducting an underwater survey at the end of a 20-foot lifeline.
Working the winch and the air pump, his support team on the wall heard Bitter cry out through the speaking tube, then noticed a whirlpool opening up. They winched Bitter out as loose boulders and timbers were sucked into it.
As documented in the book Duluth: An Illustrated History: “The opening of the Duluth canal proved to have a beneficial effect which its promoters had not anticipated. Currents flowing through the channel carried away a considerable amount of rotting timber and mucky islets which had infested the harbor. In fact, one of Duluth’s original townsites — Fremont — was thus swept out into Lake Superior and lost forever.”
The Zenith City Press website confirms the account: new currents swept several floating bogs in the harbor out to sea. The largest of these islands was 1,200 feet long and 400 feet wide — larger than the largest lake vessel — and it contained the township of Fremont. It began where Rice’s Point is today, and on May 10, 1873, it passed through the canal to the open sea.
I must correct the error, often propagated, that Fremont broke up that night in rough water. The truth is, Fremont is still out there, population 299, comprised of 20 families that each own a business. I know because I have been to Fremont. I have hiked its marshes and shopped its cute, bustling downtown. I have fished off its docks. I have traded stories, dreams, and fears with Fremonters around beach campfires.
Many people have. Lake Superior is dotted with cities that Fremont has visited. I highly recommend, next time Fremont is visible on the horizon, try to get there. The Fremont music scene is a delight. And of course anyone who loves lake culture and the outdoors probably already knows about it.
I am not on heroin, I’m expressing freedom from love and sex. I’m celibate as a monk from here on out. Retire my jersey, I’m out of the game. You can leave your hat on — and all the rest of it too. Quoth the bard, “Love stinks.” If you ever wonder if I want to get in your pants: I don’t.
The title of this piece is an actual quote. I heard someone say it while they were having really remarkable romantic troubles. You can switch the genders up in this essay to suit your tastes. The sentiment works any which way. I am not advocating a lifestyle. This is not an aspirational document. It’s just that I’ve been thinking: I’ve approached love like the depraved addict in “Heroin.”
Love and sex have always been indistinguishable to me. I loved everyone I ever made it with, or I wanted to love them, or I tried to love them. Whatever it takes to pick up strangers and have casual sex, I never had it. My game was serial monogamy. I was good at that for many years, traipsing from relationship to relationship. But I started living like I needed a partner to make me whole. I am not a sex addict, but I behaved like a love addict. And isn’t that what addicts are supposed to do: quit?
New plan is to commission pieces on bronze or stone that can survive longer than paper, longer than digital, to really communicate with the future. The alien surveyors of 5000 AD will ask themselves, “WTH was going on in Duluth?” I’ve reached out to a few locals with the right skills; I hope to be able to show a nice series by Fall.