May 3 in history: The wreck of the Hesper


Most days may just seem like any other day, but all news happens on any other day. This also holds true for May 3, which just so happens to be the 109 anniversary of the sinking of the Hesper.

The Hesper was an old steamer freight ship built in the early 1890s. First launched in Cleveland on June 28, 1890, the ship came in at 250 feet in length and capable of carrying 2700 tons of capacity. The ship’s main cargo were iron ore and grain.

During its 15 year career, the Hesper would travel the all throughout the Great Lakes.

However, its final resting place would turn out to be Lake Superior.

In 1905, off of the coast of Lake Superior near Silver Bay, Minn., the Hesper encountered a snow storm with winds reaching 60 miles-an-hour.

Having been thrown way off course, a great wave threw this ship on top of a reef, where it stayed stuck until the waves broke it apart. The wreckage spread out over five miles of coastline.

Fortunately, none of the 16-man crew died that day. They stayed with the ship for as long as they could and escaped on lifeboats just before the ship was torn apart.

The estimated loss from the wreck was between $50 and $80 thousand.

The Hesper itself has a history with shipwrecks. In a previous trip in 1896, the ship was towing another, the Ely, when the Ely became unattached and drifted her into an under construction breakwater.

The name itself is a reference to poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow “The Wreck of the Hesperus”, which ironically involves a shipwreck at the hands of a proud sea captain.

While the actual sinking of the real Hesper is a story filled with far less dramatic irony, it goes to show that every day there is a story to be told.


For more information on the wreck, visit here.


Information was gathered for this story from Zenith City Online and the Silver Bay, Minn. official website.

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