I had heard so many great things about the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point in the UP that I decided to forego riding the Curley Lewis Memorial Hwy (Scenic Byway M-123) out of Sault St. Marie, and hiking to Tahquamenon Falls, in order to give myself enough time to really take in all the exhibits at the museum. And good thing I did, that place is awesome!
In an epic gap in my pop-culture knowledge, I never knew what the song “The Edmund Fitzgerald” by Gordon Lightfoot was about. All I knew was that it was a really cool tune that reminds me of my childhood (it was released in 1975). Click HERE for a bit of nostalgia if you’re of a certain age, and for a bit of education if you’re not 😉 One of the first things I did at the museum was to watch the documentary about the recovery of the Edmund Fitzgerald ship’s bell. A truly harrowing story of the night the ship went down, the efforts to raise the bell in an attempt to bring closure for the families, and the memorial established at the museum.
Though it may be the most famous of the Great Lakes shipwrecks, it certainly is not the only one. According to the Underwater Research arm of the museum, there are over 6000 shipwrecks in the Great Lakes with a corresponding loss of 30,000 mariners lives. “At least 200 of these lie along Lake Superior’s Shipwreck Coast, a treacherous 80-mile stretch of shoreline with no safe harbor between Munising and Whitefish Point, Michigan. The famous Edmund Fitzgerald lies just 15 miles to the northwest of Whitefish Point.”
After touring the sites, I sat outside the gift shop eating the snack, when I heard “Hey look, it’s Sunshine!!” I look up and see Top and Mongo, from the hotel in St. Ignace, with a few friends in tow. Even though we had just met a couple days before, it was like running into long-lost friends! They saw my rig in the parking lot, so parked next to it and figured they’d run into me. We caught up a bit and then all walked down to the dock to take in the unbelievably beautiful lakeshore. It’s so awesome when you just click with folks on your travels, and then run into them again down the road!
After a little more visiting in the parking lot with Top, Mongo, and friends, we parted ways again to all head west, but via different routes. They were going to hug the lakeshore, whereas I chose to take the more direct MI-28 route toward Munising so I could set up camp in time to get the lay of the lay before exploring the Pictured Rocks National Park area.
Oh, that Michigan road construction though. . .