The Great Storm of 1913

In November of 1913, a storm hit the Great Lakes area that caused more damage and lost more lives than any other storm ever. The storm came to be known as The Big Blow and The Great Storm of 1913. I have recreated the newspaper articles from that storm, leaving the format and any typographical errors intact, where possible, to preserve the way they were reported.

This website is dedicated to the sailors and seamen who lost their lives on the lakes during this storm and the many other memorable storms on the lakes.

The storm, which had been building for several days, hit the area on the 9th of November, and was reported in The Port Huron Times-Herald on the 10th. The severity of the storm was not yet known, but still the headlines read . . .

[Port Huron 
   Times-Herald, Nov 10, 1913]



On November 10th, the stories started out innocent enough...With headlines reading "PORT HURON AND THUMB ARE SWEPT", and "Light Keeper and His Faithful Wife Work Like Trojans in Gale", it appeared that they were merely reporting a severe storm, but soon other articles were reporting the first news of the devastation: "MANY SHIPS AT MERCY OF WIND AND SEA", "Steamer Elphicke Is Pounding to Pieces", etc...
Go read the stories. . .

What a difference a day makes! The 11th brought reports of the damage from the worst storm in the history of the great lakes..."Schooner Sephie Is On Bottom at Cape Smith", "Steamer Mills Is On Her Way to Detroit", "Str Hawgood Is On the Beach Near the Point", "Hanna Pounds To Pieces". But the headline on the front of the paper told of the ship whose identity would remain a secret for days to come : "STR. TURNS TURTLE IN LAKE; UNKNOWN VESSEL AND CREW OF 30 DROWN"
Go read the stories. . .

On November 12th, the Port Huron Times-Herald printed an EXTRA edition. Its headline told the tale: "10 BODIES FOUND". Bodies were beginning to wash up on the beaches from countless ships. Speculation was running rampant as to the identity of the "Mystery Ship", as the overturned steamer was being called.
Go read the stories. . .

Later on the 12th, in the Last Edition of its paper, more bodies are found, and the Times-Herald sends a tug to the "Mystery Ship" to determine its identity. This paper contains the first list of the known casualties.
Go read the stories. . .

On the 13th, another EXTRA Edition was printed. The headlines read, "McGEAN DOWN; MORE BIG ONES LOST; LIST OF MISSING GROWS; SHORE STREWN WITH DEAD"
Go read the stories. . .

When the last edition on the 13th came out, there was even more bad news. The headlines read, "TODAY'S NEWS ADDS TO BIG DEATH LIST; Each Succeeding Hour Brings News of More Lake Tragedies"
Go read the stories. . .

By the 14th, every article on the front page "above the fold" dealt with the losses of the storm. The headlines read, "STEAMER SMITH IS ADDED TO LIST OF VESSELS WHICH MET DISASTER" and "HAWGOOD MASTER PROBABLY LAST TO SEE FATED BOATS".
Go read the stories. . .

On the 15th, the identity of the "Mystery Ship" was finally learned. The headline read, "BOAT IS PRICE - DIVER IS BAKER - SECRET KNOWN"
Go read the stories. . .

There will be more articles posted, at least up to the 17th of November, 1913. I am still working on these, so check back. Now that the weather is starting to turn cooler, I will spend more time indoors working on this, so check back often. Tim Daniels

This marker is located by Port Sanilac, Michigan, at a roadside park.


Other Pictures

If you enjoyed this website and want to learn more about this storm, I highly recommend SHIPS GONE MISSING - The Great Lakes Storm of 1913 by Robert J. Hemming

The Wisconsin Marine Historical Society has a first person account of the storm from an article written in the March 1914 issue of THE MARINE REVIEW. Go read it here.

Another very interesting website dedicated to this storm can be found here. Go and read some personal experiences of masters of the lake fleet of the Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Company. Thanks for pointing it out to me, Les.

Another very good website that discusses shipping and ship-related info is . There you will find a lot of information, with more links to other pages than I could even think to add here.

If you have comments or suggestions, please fill out my feedback sheet or email me at

This page created and maintained by Tim Daniels (

Last updated on 23 May 2009

You are visitor Counter to this page since March 6, 1999