Ghost Ship of Lake Superior
Sometimes when the gales of November are blowing and visibility is limited, sailors battling to guide their boats safely across the open waters of Superior claim they have seen the ghostly image of an ancient steamboat.

They say the steamer Bannockburn still rides the waves of Superior; the boat and its crew of 20 lost sailors, forever trying to find a safe harbor.

The Bannockburn, say the stories, has been making regular appearances for nearly a century after sailing off into oblivion on Nov. 21, 1902. Her supernatural visits have gained the vessel the nickname "Flying Dutchman of the Great Lakes."

The stories began after Capt. James McNaugh, master of the steamer Algonquin, reportedly told friends that his ship had the Bannockburn in sight when it vanished before his eyes.

"McNaugh turned his head away from the Bannockburn for a moment. When he looked again, the Bannockburn was gone," wrote lakes historian Frederick Stonehouse in his book "The Great Wrecks of the Great Lake."

The story of the Bannockburn sounds hauntingly similar to Superior's most famous shipwreck, the Edmund Fitzgerald, which sank with all hands during a gale on Nov. 10, 1975.

In the Fitzgerald tragedy, Capt. Jesse Cooper, master of a nearby freighter Arthur M. Anderson, not only had the Fitzgerald in sight, but he had been talking to the Fitzgerald's master, Capt. Ernest "Mac" McSorley only moments before that vessel disappeared.

Cooper said the "Fitz" was cloaked for a few minutes by a heavy snow squall. When the snow ended, he said the Fitzgerald was no longer in sight. Radio calls were unanswered. The boat's image on the radar screen also disappeared.

"The center of the scope was just a white blob," Cooper said.

Like the Bannockburn, the Fitzgerald was battling stormy seas and snow in the area of Caribou Island, which lies along the route the boat took from Port Arthur, Ont., to Sault Ste. Marie.

A recent discovery of a dangerous rock formation, sometimes called Caribou Shoal, has helped marine historians piece together possible explanations for the strange disappearances of both the Fitzgerald and the Bannockburn.

Some say the Fitzgerald "bottomed out" when it came down on the shoal. The ship put a hole in its bottom and sank out from under the crew before the men realized their boat was fatally damaged.

The Bannockburn may have shared the same fate.

The steamer was carrying grain from Fort William to Kingston.

Great And Lost Ships Of The World