On October 1st of 1918 the steamer Gale Staples of Port Arthur, Canada, was bound for her home port with a load of coal on Lake Superior. A hard gale out of the north caused her to be grounded on the Au Sable Shoal about half to three-quarters of a mile northwest by north of the Au Sable Light Station, 7 miles west of Grand Marais MI.
According to John Brooks, Keeper of the Au Sable Light Station from 1908 through February of 1923, he and his assistants witnessed the wreck of the steamer.
"My first and second assistants went out to see if they could render any help. That was October first. Initially they thought that she could be saved, but it turned out to be impossible. Within five days the upper cabin of the ship was gone. Gale Staples appeared to have broken forward of the cabin. The salvagers abandoned her on the 7th, being able to salvage 1,600 tons of coal by that time. Her estimated value in 1918 was about $75,000. She is just another victim of the Au Sable Shoal!"
The Gale Staples is one of three shipwrecks that can be viewed along the coast between the Hurricane River Campground and the Au Sable Light Station. Along with the wreck of the steamer Gale Staples, two other wrecks can be seen, the steam barge Mary Jarecki ran ashore on July 4, 1882 and the steamer Sitka ran aground on the Au Sable shoal on October 4, 1904.
I took this 1.5 minute exposure of the Gale Staples about 50-55 minutes after the sun set below Lake Superior on a pleasantly cool evening during the first week of October 2011.
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