Pilot House Resourt

Wrecked Freighter Altadoc Sparked Tiny Tourist Attraction


By James Donahue


It was an early winter gale on the Great Lakes that led to the destruction of the bulk carriers Altadoc, Agawa, Lambton and Martin. The date was Dec. 8, 1927. All four ships were driven aground and destroyed by the storm which packed near hurricane force winds of up to 70 miles an hour.


The Altadoc, a Canadian-owned vessel, was steaming empty on Lake Superior, bound for Fort William, Ontario, when the storm drove it aground at Copper Harbor on Keweenaw Point, at the northern tip of Michigan.


The steamer was hard aground but still intact during the storm so the crew remained safe and able to escape to shore. Before salvagers could save the 26-year-old vessel, her steel hull cracked and the ship was swept by a fire in its coal bunker.


The engine was salvaged and the rest of the old ship was cut up for scrap during World War II.


An interesting antidote to this story is that the ship’s pilothouse was removed and for several years used as a gift shop and two-room hotel at Copper Harbor. The facility was featured in National Geographic Magazine as possibly the world’s smallest resort. It lost that distinction after the owners built additional cabins on the property.


The pilot house was mysteriously destroyed by fire in the 1980s and is no more. Some of the cabins from the original resort are still to be found in various places around the Keweenaw.


While the 365-foot-long vessel is best remembered as the Altadoc, she only held that name for one season following its sale to N. M. Paterson & Sons Ltd of Canada in 1926. She was launched as the Lake Shore at Bay City, Michigan, in 1901, and later renamed Indus.



Hard Aground At Copper Harbor

Great And Lost Ships Of The World