TBT – City of Bangor Shipwreck
The City of Bangor grounded and stuck in the ice
This photo shows “the gap” between Hunter’s Point and Porter’s Island
During the night of November 30, 1926, the Eagle Harbor Coast Guard crew were heading for Copper Harbor with 22 men they had saved from the Thomas Maytham. As they rounded Keweenaw Point, they came across another ship encased in ice and abandoned.
The City of Bangor was upbound from Detroit to Duluth when she went up on the rock reef, in an area of heavy forest between Keweenaw Point and Copper Harbor.
As the Coast Guard boats continued on towards safety, they finally saw the crew of the City of Bangor on the shore. After shouting instructions back and forth, the Coast Guard boats went on to Copper Harbor to unload the Maytham crew. They then returned to the City of Bangor crew, fought through the breakers and rescued the crew of 29.
The men were in bad shape. When the City of Bangor hit the rocks, the hull was ripped open, and water poured into the engine room, drowning her fires. The ship was dark and cold. The lake spray froze over the steel ship, creating an iceberg.
When the seas moderated the following day, the crew reached shore in the lifeboat. There they found a couple feet of wet snow and nothing else – no road, no people, no houses. They built a fire and spent a cold night in the woods. The men were without adequate clothing for the freezing temperatures. There was no food. The ship’s officers forcibly kept the men moving to prevent them from succumbing to the cold. When sighted by the Coast Guard, they were exhausted and nearly all in. Many were suffering from frostbite and would require hospitalization. All of her crew were rescued by the Eagle Harbor Coast Guard, in spite of the blizzard and below zero temperatures.shipwreck of the City of Bangor
A double rescue in one day and night was unusual, but so was the cargo of the City of Bangor. Her cargo consisted of 248 brand new 1926 Chryslers. The wind had been so fierce that 18 cars on the deck were blown into the lake. Later the remains of these cars washed up on the Keweenaw beaches.
Most of the cars were in the Bangor’s hold and thus in excellent condition. Eventually all of the cars, outside of those blown into the lake, were recovered. When the water surrounding the steamer froze solid enough, a ramp was built to the deck and the Chryslers were driven off and over the ice to Copper Harbor. There, they were kept until spring when the roads could be plowed open. Taken to Calumet, they were loaded on a Detroit train, shipped by rail back to Detroit and, after repairing, resold.
Several Chryslers did remain in the Copper Country area where their proud owners swear they are the “finest cars they ever owned.” The City of Bangor later slid off the reef during the spring storms and has become a site for SCUBA diving. During World War II she was cut up for scrap, although some of the vessel still remains.
Information from Great Wrecks of the Great Lakes and Keweenaw Shipwrecks by Frederick Stonehouse.