The lighthouse keeper’s log at 40 Mile Point for October 20, 1905 simply reads: “At 8:30 p.m. last night the steamer, J. S. Fay, came ashore here in a sinking condition. She soon broke up. Most of the crew came ashore on the Pilot House. Three men swam ashore, the mate was drowned.” The entry for December 4, 1905 reads: “The assistant found a dead man on the beach about 1 mile up. We think it is the mate of the Fay.”
The Joseph S. Fay was a wooden steamer built in 1871 and was one of the first Great Lake freighters built for the iron ore trade.On October 19, 1905 in heavy seas, the Fay with the Rhodes in tow, departed from Escanaba, Michigan and was downbound on Lake Huron The captain hugged the coast seeking some protection from the violent wind and savage waves. The wind shifted violently straining the towline tightened, pulling it taut until the Rhodes broke free taking a portion of the Fay’s stern with her.
Water rushed into the hull and the crew crowded into the forward cabin. The captain struggled to bring the Fay around and head to shore toward 40 Mile Point Light Station. Her bow struck a sandbar and the entire forward cabin was torn off. The wheelhouse, deck, mate’s and captain’s rooms were ripped from the deck. Incredibly, huge waves lifted the structure and carried it to shore where it washed up on the sandy beach near the light station. The captain and 10 crewmen were safe inside. In fact, one of the crewmen was reported to be asleep and didn’t even wake up.
First Mate David Syze of Port Huron and two other crewmen weren’t so fortunate. Clinging to the beached hull, the struggling men ripped off a spar and used it to paddle to shore. The first mate attempted to swim, but was overcome by the cold and was lost.
if you visit 40 Mile Point Light Station Near Rogers City and stroll up the beach about 200 yards, you can see some 150 feet of her huge wooden side, metal rods and spikes holding her steady, resting in the sand.
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