- Bannockburn -

The "Flying Dutchman" of Lake Superior

OTHER NAMES(s): none
DATE OF LOSS:      November 21, 1902
LOCATION:             Lake Superior
RIG TYPE:                Propeller, bulk freighter
HULL TYPE:            Steel
BUILDER:                Sir R. Dixon & Co., Middlesbrough, Eng. - 1893
OWNER(S):             Montreal Transportation Co., Montreal, Canada
MASTER:                Capt. George R. Wood
TONNAGE:             1,620
DIMENSIONS:       245 x 40.1 x 18.4
CASUALTIES:         20 (all)


At about 9 o'clock a.m. on November 21, 1902, the Bannockburn left Port Arthur with her cargo of 85,000 bushels of wheat downbound for Midland, Ontario. When the Bannockburn was seriously overdue at the Soo locks conflicting reports and rumors abounded. She was "lying behind Slate Island", "on the mainland north of Michipicoten Island", or on the Michipicoten Island itself. The upbound steamer, Algonquin, reported passing the Bannockburn about fifty miles southeast of Passage Island and northeast of Keweenaw Point on the evening of the 21st, the captain remarking how quickly she had gone out of sight afterward. The steamer John D. Rockefeller had reached Duluth on the 26th and reported passing through a large debris field off Stannard Rock but saw no signs of life. Tugs were sent from Sault Ste. Marie by the Montreal Transportation Company, owners of the Bannockburn, to search the north shore of Lake Superior for any sign of her but found no trace of the missing vessel. The only known wreckage from the Bannockburn was a single cork life preserver that washed up on the beach and was found by the Captain of the Grand Marais Lifesaving Station on December 12, 1902.


The underwriter's conclusion was that the Bannockburn stranded on Caribou Island. A dangerous reef surrounds the island and, with the light there having been turned off the week before, there would have been no warning before her hull slammed onto the reef. And, so, on the night of November 21, 1902, as a terrible storm unleashed itself, the Bannockburn disappeared from the face of Lake Superior forever....or did she? The Bannockburn seemingly had a unique profile and, in the years to follow, crews of other vessels have claimed to have seen her on dark, stormy nights, beating her way downbound on Lake Superior, perhaps still looking for the light that wasn't there on her final run.


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