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November's Fury

The Deadly Great Lakes Hurricane of 1913

Michael Schumacher

Publication Year: 2013

On Thursday, November 6, the Detroit News forecasted “moderate to brisk” winds for the Great Lakes. On Friday, the Port Huron Times-Herald predicted a “moderately severe” storm. Hourly the warnings became more and more dire. Weather forecasting was in its infancy, however, and radio communication was not much better; by the time it became clear that a freshwater hurricane of epic proportions was developing, the storm was well on its way to becoming the deadliest in Great Lakes maritime history.

The ultimate story of man versus nature, November’s Fury recounts the dramatic events that unfolded over those four days in 1913, as captains eager—or at times forced—to finish the season tried to outrun the massive storm that sank, stranded, or demolished dozens of boats and claimed the lives of more than 250 sailors. This is an account of incredible seamanship under impossible conditions, of inexplicable blunders, heroic rescue efforts, and the sad aftermath of recovering bodies washed ashore and paying tribute to those lost at sea. It is a tragedy made all the more real by the voices of men—now long deceased—who sailed through and survived the storm, and by a remarkable array of photographs documenting the phenomenal damage this not-so-perfect storm wreaked.

The consummate storyteller of Great Lakes lore, Michael Schumacher at long last brings this violent storm to terrifying life, from its first stirrings through its slow-mounting destructive fury to its profound aftereffects, many still felt to this day.

Published by: University of Minnesota Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 2-9


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p. ix-ix

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pp. x-xii

Vessels lost, wrecked, and stranded during the Great Lakes Hurricane of 1913....

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pp. xiii-xvi

Milton Smith tried but could not shake the uneasy feeling he had about his boat?s final up-bound trip of the season. Sailors could be like that. They would get a sense of foreboding, a feeling that some-thing was about to go wrong, and that was it. Maritime lore spills over with stories about sailors? premonitions. They would resign ...

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pp. 1-12

...?Straight-deckers? passing through the Soo Locks shortly after the turn of the twentieth century. The vessel on the right is the Henry Steinbrenner, named for the Great Lakes shipping magnate and father of New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. Built in 1901, this boat sank in 1909 in a collision but was ultimately salvaged. She foundered near Isle Royale in a gale in 1953, with a loss of seventeen and sixteen survivors....

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“How Could Such a Thing Happen on a Goddamn Lake?”

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pp. 13-62

After suffering a tremendous beating that crippled the steering and tore off a portion of the pilothouse, the L. C. Waldo, iced over and broken, grounded near Michigan?s Keweenaw in the early days of November 1913, a low-pressure system formed in the northern Pacific near alaska?s aleutian islands. it dipped down into canada, pulling cold arctic air behind it, and dropped ...

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“So Violent a Storm”

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pp. 63-102

By all indications, the storm that had tormented the upper lakes was not going to reach lake huron and the other lower lakes. This was good news to captains itching to deliver cargo to ports on lake Michigan or lake Superior. Waiting for the storm to subside had fouled up shipping schedules, and delays, under the best of circum-...

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“You Might Not Have Light Tonight”

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pp. 103-116

The blizzard hitting Cleveland paralyzed its transportation and communications systems, leaving the city isolated from the rest of the world. Despite the hardship, Cleveland?s newspapers continued to publish, and over the next few days printed front-page reports A wintry mix of rain and snow began falling on cleveland at about four thirty on Sunday morning. The temperature was a seasonably ...

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“I Might See You in Heaven”

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pp. 117-164

A weather map issued by the Canadian Meteorological Service dated Sunday, November 9, 1913, shows the storm at its peak centered over Lake Huron at 8:00 p.m. At that time the official wind velocity recorded in Port Huron was fifty-six to fifty-eight miles per hour, but The storm on lake huron stretched the capabilities of the lifesav-ing stations trying to assist stranded vessels: they simply were not ...

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“This Was Not Natural”

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pp. 165-176

With the exceptions of the Charles S. Price and the Buffalo light-ship, the exact locations of the boats lost during the Storm of 1913 while still afloat near Port huron. Lightship 82, after foundering on lake erie without a trace, had been discovered the following There were attempts to salvage the Price and Lightship 82, if for ...


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pp. 177-180

Appendix: Boats Lost or Stranded

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pp. 181-184

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Sources and Acknowledgments

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pp. 185-188

The books i consulted for this account are listed in the bibliogra-phy, but a handful of volumes deserve special recognition for their David G. Brown?s White Hurricane brings the storm to life, lake to lake, boat to boat. i referred to this book on numerous occasions while writing, often to double-check the chronology, which can be ...


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pp. 189-190

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Illustration Credits

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pp. 191-192

The university of Minnesota Press gratefully acknowledges the following institutions and individuals who provided permission to reproduce the il-c. Patrick labadie collection/Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, alpena, Michigan: pages 4, 22, 25, 27, 33, 38, 41, 46, 52, 60, 122, and 159.Wisconsin historical Society: page 5 [WhS2065]; photograph by David?F. ...


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pp. 193-198

E-ISBN-13: 9781452940441
E-ISBN-10: 1452940444
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816687190

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2013