Keeper’s Log, July 13

Sand Island Light Station, July 13, 1899

N. E. breeze and cloudy with fog outside. At 9:00 A. M. N. E. fresh with fog. Keeper worked in garden til noon. At 1:40 P. M. Keeper and folkes were startled by the blast of a steamer whistle just under the east side of the island, not more than a half mile from the station. It was the first sound of a whistle since the fog set in which was at 9:00 A. M. , when it would get very thick at times but pass off again.

No fog signal at Sand Island, which meant it was okay for the keeper to putter around in the garden while the fog got thick, instead of rushing to boil up a head of steam for the whistle.

Keeper left the dinner table and started at once in the direction of the whistle, which called for help. I had not gone far til I see she was on the shore where there is a rocky reef that extends out. I went out to her to see what could be done and learned her name and where she was bound for.

The name of the steamer Lizzie Madden of Bay City loaded with 650 thousand feet of lumber taken on at Bayfield and Buffalo Bay, and bound for Duluth to pick up her three vessels…

“Her three vessels” – an extreme example of the tug and consort system.

…which is also loaded with lumber and bound for Detroit, Michigan. Capt. J. M. Madden of Port Huron, Mich. is master of her with a crew of eleven men and two ladies. Name of owner, T. F. Madden of Bay City. The Str. is of 517 ton burden. She is broadside to the island and out of water forward 2 feet and aft 8 inches.

The Capt. waited for the Str. Hunter, which arrived at 4:30 P. M. . And the Keeper took the mate out to board the Str. Hunter to go to Ashland to call for tugs and help, but failed, and was obliged to telegraph to Duluth for tugs. It was very thick during evening and most of the night but quite calm, so the steamer was resting easy.

Cause of casualty, compass deranged.

Don’t you just love that last line? I get a mental picture of the compass doing a Jack Nicholson bit as it points the boat straight at the rocks.

Anyway, this would not be the Lizzie Madden’s last misadventure among the Apostle Islands. Six years later, it would be towing the lumber barge Noquebay past Stockton Island when the latter vessel caught fire, causing complete loss.

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