Flashback Friday: Remembering the Steamer Isle Royale

Shipwrecks - Isle Royale
The steamer at port.

Today’s Flashback Friday photograph comes to us from the Ben Chynoweth Collection. It depicts the steamer Isle Royale in all of her majestic glory. A man stands on the upper deck looking into the distance, perhaps to the place where the edge of the Big Lake meets the edge of the big sky. 

The Isle Royale foundered from a leak this week in 1885. The steamer sprung the leak about 18 miles south of Isle Royale’s Washington Harbor. Thankfully the ship became swamped but the people aboard did not. The Isle Royale began taking on water on July 25 near Susie Island on the way back to Duluth. The passengers and crew were able to safely disembark and get to the nearby island. According to some articles, the ship fully sank in the wee hours on this day in 1885.

The vessel first launched in 1879 as a cargo ship of a different name, but it was later renamed the Isle Royale after she was purchased by the Cooley-Lavaque Fishery in Duluth in 1883. After the purchase she was refitted as a double-decker passenger steamer which made regular routes between Isle Royale and Port Arthur in Thunder Bay.


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