Blue Angels Practicing, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida - May 10, 2017

Blue Angels Practicing, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida - May 10, 2017
Blue Angels Practicing, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida - May 10, 2017

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Captain Tucker to the Rescue Boat! - Wed., Oct. 1, 2014

Our day started in typical fashion and we headed out to sightsee. Plans included waterfall chasing, and a visit to the Eagle Harbor Life-Saving Station Museum. Basically we would do a loop tour south of Copper Harbor to visit museums about members of my family.

Manganese Falls (down in a canyon)
The Estivant Pines Wilderness Nature Sanctuary was on my list of places to visit. It's off the beaten path, but a beautiful drive on a dirt road. This sanctuary contains a 500-acre stand of old growth Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus) growing in a biologically diverse mixture of northern hardwoods and boreal species. (Boreal meaning coniferous forests growing in the north of the Northern hemisphere where the climatic zone has snowy winters and short summers.) In 1970, logging of the old growth pine and maple started. Local people protested the cutting of the big trees. It required the combined efforts of a local Keweenaw Committee and the Michigan Nature Association to negotiate a stop to the cutting. Nearly 500 acres have been purchased by the Michigan Nature Association to save this stand of old trees.


Eastern White Pine
I can't resist throwing in more fall color shots taken at Estivant Pines Sanctuary!




In Copper Harbor, Bob stopped in at the Visitor Center to use their internet connection while I roamed across the street to Swede's Gift Shop.

 Swede's Gift Shop, Copper Harbor, Michigan
My mom and dad visited Swede's on their 1992 trip to the Upper Peninsula. Long story short, my dad got to talking about his grandpa, and Jim Billings, owner of Swede's, pulled out a book called "Shipwrecks Off Keweenaw...Stories of Brave Ships and Brave Men," by Mac Frimodig to show him two chapters about our relatives! So I went over to talk to the owners too. Mary Billings was in the shop, but she didn't seem to know anything about our relatives and they no longer carry the book. It's a good thing mom and dad bought us a copy.

After Bob finished his work, we headed south. Next stop Brockway Mountain. Bob wanted to make a cell phone call and there is a signal up there. On the way up, we stopped at an overlook of Lake Superior and Lake Fanny Hooe. Gorgeous panorama.

Lake Fanny Hooe (where we camped at Ft. Wilkins)
Lake Superior from the overlook
A freighter way out on the lake
As we headed southwest, we had a nice view of Lake Superior.


Now it's time to talk about my side of the family. I, too, have relatives I'm proud of who lived in the Upper Peninsula (U.P. - Yoopers). A whole museum in Eagle Harbor (Eagle Harbor Life-Saving Station), and part of a second museum (Maritime Museum at the Eagle Harbor Lighthouse complex) are dedicated to my family.

Me holding the book with stories about my relatives.
Maritime Museum at the Eagle Harbor Lighthouse Complex
My great grandpa, Captain Charles Tucker, was born in what is now Harbor Beach, Michigan, the sixth of 13 children. He began his 39-year Life-Saving career in 1890 as a Surfman at the Portage Ship Canal Station in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. After assisting on over 70 rescues on Lake Superior, he became the Keeper at Eagle Harbor Life-Saving Station in 1912 when the former Keeper, Albert Ocha, died shortly after the station's opening.
Captain Tucker stayed with the Eagle Harbor Station through their transition to the U.S. Coast Guard, returning to Portage in 1918 as their fifth Keeper.

He and his wife Flora (now I know where my Aunt Flora got her name!) had nine children; their son Chester served as Surfman #5 on the L. C. Waldo rescue. Their daughter Winifred Ida married #1 Surfman Anthony Glaza.

My great grandpa, Keeper Charles Tucker
The two most famous Lake Superior rescues my family helped on were the steamer L. C. Waldo carrying a load of iron ore, and The City of Bangor carrying 220 new automobiles, mostly Chryslers, to expectant owners in Duluth, Minnesota. (Items in quotes below are from "Shipwrecks Off Keweenaw," by Mac Frimodig.)

The Waldo was headed from Two Harbors, Minnesota to the lower lakes when, on Nov. 7, 1913, "northwest winds and blinding snows caught up with them, driving heavy seas across the Waldo's bow and applying a veneer of ice to her decks.

"At midnight, the shrieking winds piled up a mountainous wave that plucked the pilot house from its moorings and swept it overside. The captain, mate and wheelsman leapt for a hatchway and somehow hung on as backlash from the wave threatened to claim them as well."

Captain Duddleson hoped to guide the ship to shelter behind Manitou Island, but he had not found Manitou Island, instead it was Gull Rock which stopped the Waldo with a big jolt. The forward deckhouse, life boats and rafts were swept overboard. There was no escape onto the rock ledges of Gull Island. Everyone on board made their way to the windlass room, the only dry spot on the broken ship. An upside-down bathtub with one end elevated on bricks was used as a makeshift fireplace. Pails with the bottoms cut out and placed together up to a porthole served as the chimney. Anything that could burn was chopped into small pieces and burned. The windlass room was completely encased in ice.

Three days later a passing freighter saw the Waldo, and the freighter's captain put some of his own men ashore in Bete Gris to sound the alarm for the Eagle Harbor Life-Saving Station. Captain Tucker and crew had a challenge...he "and his crew of eight had to rely on their small, eight-horsepower surfboat because their larger craft was in the midst of repairs.

"At the end of six hours, in full exposure to the gale, the surfboat had covered scarcely four miles and had become so caked with ice that it was difficult to control. Reluctantly, the captain gave the order to return to their station, by which time the crew members themselves were so solidly encased in ice that they needed assistance in removing their life preservers and outer garments." [Note: A crew from Portage was also dispatched when they heard of the Eagle Harbor crew's predicament with repairs being needed to their larger craft.]

"After a change of clothes and some hot food, the entire crew turned out to complete repairs on their [larger] lifeboat, and at 3 a.m. the following morning, they began their second effort to reach the stricken Waldo. This time they were successful, covering the 28-mile distance in four hours and arriving just as the Portage crew had hollered up a response from within the frozen hulk of the freighter...

"Two feet of ice encased the windlass room, and it took considerable chopping from both sides to free the prisoners within."

All 29 people were rescued from the Waldo. Each member of the crew from the Eagle Harbor Life-Saving Station as well as the Portage Life-Saving Station were given a Gold Medal from the Treasury Department. Three of my relatives were on the Eagle Harbor Life-Saving crew, my great grandpa Captain Charles Tucker, my great uncle Chester Tucker, and my great uncle Tony Glaza.



Another Captain Tucker story
My great uncle went on to become Captain Tony Glaza and he was in charge of the rescue of the crew from shipwrecked City of Bangor. That's another long story and perhaps I'll tell it another day.

My great uncle, Captain Tony Glaza, Sr.
But what's really interesting is that City of Bangor was transporting 220 new automobiles. Eighteen of those cars were whipped from the deck by the seas and still at the bottom somewhere offshore. However, the shipwrecked City of Bangor was iced in. The remaining cars "were chopped free from the deck and or winched from the hold, then lowered by ramp to the ice. Teams cleared a road along the ice to Copper Harbor" and the cars were "driven under their own power to the Harbor and lined up in front of" someone's house for the winter. Come spring, they were shipped by flat car back to Detroit for reconditioning.

When we finished at the Eagle Harbor Life-Saving Museum, we crossed the bay to the Eagle Harbor Lighthouse Complex. At the lighthouse complex, two more buildings had history about Captain Tucker and Captain Glaza. In fact, many of the photos in the museums were taken by Captain Anthony Glaza. One of the museums at the lighthouse has one of the Chryslers from City of Bangor's shipwreck.

We were hungry, so in between museums we had a late lunch at the Eagle Harbor Inn. It was amazing. If you're ever in Eagle Harbor, stop in and have an excellent meal.

Eagle Harbor Life-Saving Station Museum in foreground
Eagle Harbor Lighthouse
Eagle Harbor Lighthouse
Eagle Harbor Lighthouse overlooking Lake Superior
Bob in front of 1927 Chrysler from City of Bangor
Driving new Chryslers across the ice
Chryslers lined up for winter
1927 Chrysler hood ornamentation
At the Maritime Museum on the Lighthouse grounds, I found these...

Another Captain Tucker rescue article
Captain Tucker in back center, his daughter, Ethel, bottom center.
Captain Tony Glaza
The Eagle Harbor Lighthouse Museum was decorated as it would have been when people lived in it. I thought some of you would be interested in the fabric art and old sewing machine.



Treadle Singer sewing machine
Crazy quilt
Explanation of "Crazy Quilt"
In addition to the museums, we walked up on the viewing platform overlooking Lake Superior. There is a fascinating information sign with facts about Lake Superior.


Once we finished with all the museums, we continued on our circle tour. One of the places I was hoping to visit was Jampot Bakery, but I had no idea where it was. As we were driving by, I saw it and said, "Oh, it's the Jampot Bakery, I want to stop!" Jampot is run by Byzantine Monks who work to support themselves by making jams, jellies, fruit butters, cookies, fruitcake, muffins, brittles, pancake mix, trail mix, truffles and brownies. When we pulled in we saw a tour bus parked in the lot. About 15 people were crowded into their little retail space. The tourists were leaving with boxes of products. Thankfully we got there toward the end of their buying spree and only had about six people in line ahead of us.

Jampot Bakery
Interior of Jampot Bakery. (Photo taken with permission.)
After our little buying spree at Jampot, we stopped to see a couple of waterfalls and then headed back to Copper Harbor in time to have dinner there.

Jacobs Falls
Eagle River Falls


Eagle River's copper history
For dinner we chose the Harbor Haus in Copper Harbor because so many people  recommended it. We sat at a table on the second floor overlooking Lake Superior. Harbor Haus has a German-Austrian-American menu and the prices are steep. The food and view are worth it. Both of us had the Lake Superior Trout marinated and baked, served with a dinner salad, crusty French rolls, and vegetables. Mmmmmm.

Harbor Haus Restaurant (unfortunately it's for sale)

Marinated trout, mushroom risotto and mixed veggies
View of Lake Superior from dining room.
And that, my friends, is how to completely fill up your day!

Travel Bug out.


5 comments:

  1. That was a big day! How fascinating to go to a museum and read about your family history! They certainly were an integral part of that area!

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  2. Wow you had a full day for sure, thanks for sharing your families history.

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  3. What fun to read all about your family!

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  4. Always interesting to learn more about family history. We have yet to eat at Harbor Haus, now we must.

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  5. Amazing history...oh my the terror I could feel just reading about yhe men trapped in the wrecked ship! And I bet you took the pic of the treadle machine and quilt just for me????

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