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New Milwaukee Boat Tour Tells Haunting Stories Of Great Lakes Shipwrecks

Eastland_Postcard_-_View_of_Eastland_taken_from_Fire_Tug_in_river.png
Max Rigot Selling Company
/
Wikimedia Commons
View of Eastland taken from Fire Tug in the Chicago River, showing the hull resting on its side on the river bottom. The work of recovering bodies is being carried on with untiring effort

Gothic Milwaukee offers ghost tours of the city but this summer the tours are moving from land to water. Gothic Milwaukee’s new Shipwrecks of the Great Lakes tour has everything from ghost stories to cautionary tales. Attendees will learn about the sinking of the Eastland, the deadliest maritime disaster on the Great Lakes; the lore behind the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald and a few lesser-known shipwrecks as well.

Anna Lardinois is a Gothic Milwaukee tour guide and author of the book, Shipwrecks of the Great Lakes. She says the tour not only focuses on ships that have sunk but ghost ships, or boats that people report seeing long after falling to the bottom of a Great Lake.

The Western Reserve, which sunk in 1913 in Lake Superior, is one of Lardinois’ favorite ghost ship stories. She says not only do people claim to see it over 100 years later, but they also claim to hear the lost boat.

“People who report seeing it claim to hear a soft laughter coming from the area, the sounds of a party and then it disappears,” she says. “The Great Lakes are filled with stories like this, which is why I find them so intriguing.”

Throughout the years, Lardinois says the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth have proved to be dangerous for sailors and taken numerous lives.

“Over 6,000 ships have been lost on the Great Lakes, over 30,000 sailors have died,” she says.

Despite the tragedy, Lardinois says she is attracted to the wrecks because of the deep history and superstition that sailors hold. She says many of the beliefs and stories about boat disasters that were told when humans first started sailing still exist today.

“Sailors are filled with superstitions and lore. It’s an ancient thing, people have been sailing, you know, almost since the beginning and a lot of those initial things that people believed carry on to this day,” she says.

Gothic Milwaukee’s boat tours begin on Thursday, June 10 and will be available until Sept. 2.

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