If I told you that there was a place called "Shipwreck Coast" where ships and sailors met their untimely deaths in frigid, choppy waters that crash against constantly shifting sandy shoals and rocky coastline, where do you think I would be talking about? Norway? Sweden? Iceland?
Well, how about the Upper Peninsula in Michigan? Just watched a documentary on PBS called "Storm Warriors: Heroes of the Shipwreck Coast" that talked about Shipwreck Coast on Lake Superior in the UP of Michigan.
If you look at the image below, from the Great Lakes Information Network, Shipwreck Coast is the coastline after you emerge from the Soo Locks of the St. Marys River going into Lake Superior along the northern coastline of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Another image is here, from the documentary website.
The problem was so bad that Congress eventually built a series of "Life-Saving Service Stations" along the coast and two lighthouses. The people that lived here faced harsh, long winters and an almost desperate isolation as they served this country by rescuing those in shipwrecks, or ships that were clearly about to become wrecks. The documentary detailed many of the heroic rescues that were accomplished and depicts the life of these men and their families in an engaging manner.
It's kind of strange to imagine Lake Superior as the setting for so much maritime drama. From 30-foot waves, to tragic deaths and incredible rescues, the 100 or so shipwrecks along Shipwreck Coast each have a compelling story behind them.
Apparently today, you can visit Shipwreck Coast and go scuba diving to see the wrecks firsthand. There is also a museum you can visit, to complete the edutainment.
Amazing what's in our backyards...