The Shipwreck Jupiter
During several days of areal surveillance in June 2007, nearly a dozen shipwreck sites were located. Further investigations put a name to one historical, undiscovered site, the Jupiter.A wooden schooner barge, the Jupiter ran aground during a gale force storm on November 27, 1872. The Jupiter was bound from Marquette to Wyandotte, Michigan with a load of iron ore. The General Dix was towing the Jupiter and sister ship Saturn when the lines broke free. Both schooners were lost in the shallows. The Jupiter was believed to be west of Vermilion Point when the ship vanished. Tragically, all hands were lost from both schooners. The Jupiter and Saturn were newly built schooners and in service only a few weeks. The Saturn was discovered July 2006 by members of the Whitefish Point Underwater Preserve a few miles west of Whitefish Point in 18 feet of water.
During this same November gale storm two other ships also perished. The W.C. Griswald was reported lost west of Two Hearted River. The W.O. Brown was reported lost near Point Mamainse, Ontario. The Jupiter and Saturn were both owned by Captain Eber Ward of Detroit. Through Captain Eber Ward’s and other mariner’s determined efforts, four Lifesaving Stations were created along the desolate coast between Grand Marias and Whitefish Point.
Photograph by Darryl Ertel ©2007
The bow of the Shipwreck Jupiter looms out from the sandy bottom of Lake Superior after 135 years.
In 1874 Congress authorized a total of thirty first and second class Lifesaving Stations for the Great Lakes. Lake Superior would get four first class Lifesaving Stations. The locations were selected by Captain J.H. Merryman of the Revenue Marine in September 1874. The stations at Vermilion Point Station #9, Crisp Point Station #10, Two-Hearted River Station #11 and Muskalonge Lake (Deer Park) Station #12 were built in 1875 and operational in 1876. The Lifesaving Stations continued until 1915, when with threat of European war, it was combined with the Revenue Cutter Service into our present United States Coast Guard. The Grand Marias Lifesaving Station was built in 1899, and the Whitefish Point Coast Guard Station was built in 1923.
Photographs by Darryl Ertel ©2007
Joseph Schmitz (left) and his son John Schmitz (right) visited Whitefish Point in July. Joseph’s great grandfather was Captain Peter Howard of the Jupiter.
Through the August 2006 Whitefish Point Underwater Preserve article, we came in contact with John Schmitz. John is the great great grandson of Captain Peter Howard of the Jupiter. We shared information on the Saturn and the Jupiter. Locating the Jupiter had become our quest after finding the Saturn. Which initiated our areal surveys in June earlier this summer. I asked John what is means to his family, locating the shipwreck Jupiter. “The rediscovery of the Jupiter ends over a century of speculation in our family about the final fate of the ship that our great great grandfather captained. For the last sixty years for my father and for the last thirty years for me, we’ve heard stories about Captain Peter Howard. We never did know what kind of ship he was on or what his last trip entailed. Now, with our recent research and finding the shipwreck, we finally know the story. This added to the recent revelation that those men’s deaths actually saved scores of others due to the creation of the Lifesaving Stations along the coast is very exciting to us. We’ll now be able to pass on the whole story to our children and grandchildren.” Stated John. John has also created an informational web site schoonerjupiter.com to share his research on the Jupiter and Saturn.
Along with identifying the Jupiter, the Whitefish Point Underwater Preserve has identified six other shipwreck sites. The Cleveland was blown into the shallows by the Two-Hearted River during a fierce gale storm on October 28, 1864. The side wheel steamer was built to carry passengers and package freight.
The W.S. Crosthwaite was sheltering peacefully at anchor when she caught fire from a stove which had been placed on deck to heat water for the crew’s laundry. The ship burned to the waterline and sank in Whitefish Bay on November 13, 1904.
The Phineas S. Marsh was driven ashore during a storm and struck bottom on August 26, 1896. Her crew took to the rigging as she sank. They were rescued by the Lifesaving Service near Crisp Point.
The Mystic was carrying a party of surveyors when she caught fire and was run to shore. The ship burned to the waterline in Tahquamenon Bay of Whitefish Bay on September 27, 1893.
The Pacific grounded on a sand bank departing Deer Park docks on November 16, 1887. The Lifesaving Service rescued the crew, including a special trip to save the ship’s dog.
The Starucca was driven on a bar by an icy gale off Deer Park on November 15, 1887. She was thought to be in no danger, so her crew stayed aboard until she started to break up. Deer Park Lifesaving Service came to the rescue in a tiny surfboat and took the entire crew off in three trips just before she broke up and sank.
We are very excited to document these shipwrecks, and give them names. They are precious pieces of our heritage, and should be preserved and protected.