Lake Superior may be calm as glass one moment and have 20 foot seas the next. Storms rage on the lake from April through the infamous Gales of November into January. The crew of the Eagle Harbor Life Saving Station knew that all too well yet they lived by the motto of the U.S. Life Saving Service “You have to go out but you don’t have to come back”. Once a separate governmental agency the Life Saving Service became part of the U.S. Coast Guard in 1915. To honor these brave men and their families the Keweenaw County Historical Society has opened a Life-Saving Station Museum near the at the marina in Eagle Harbor in the old Life Saving Station boathouse. The museum now displays all the early wooden rescue boats used by the U.S. Life-Saving Service and the U.S. Coast Guard. It now has on exhibit its jewel, a completely restored 26 Ft Pulling Surfboat, donated by Wheaten College of Illinois. (A photo of the bot will be placed here shortly
The museum contains several exhibits including:
- A 26-foot U. S. Coast Guard motor surfboat that was acquired in December, 2009 from Cape Hatteras National Seashore, in North Carolina
- A 36-foot U.S. Coast Guard Motor Lifeboat (MLB) self-righting surf boat that once served at the USCG Portage Station
- A Surfboat trailer used to haul the surfboat to shipwreck sites
- A Beach Cart used to transport equipment to a wreck site for a beach rescue by surfmen
- A Line Cart used to carry line for beach rescues
- A Life-Car, a small covered lifeboat used to transport shipwreck victims to shore
- A Lyle Gun used to shoot a rescue line from the shore to a wreck
- A Buda boat engine, an engine manufactured by the Buda Marine Engine Company of Illinois that was typically used to power surfboats
The Museum also has a 26-foot pulling surfboat which is being now being restored. Once the26-foot surfboat is delivered from the restorer, the museum will display all the early wooden rescue boats used by the U.S. Life-Saving Service and the U.S. Coast Guard.
The Museum has a glass enclosed viewing area inside the restored Life-Saving Station boathouse. It has one display about the Eagle Harbor station’s most famous rescue, the 1913 wreck of the steamer L. C. Waldo. The Waldo was wrecked in a November storm off Keweenaw Point. Nine Eagle Harbor and Portage Station rescuers were awarded the Life-Saving Service’s highest honor, the Gold Medal, for their heroic role in assisting in the rescue of 24 souls and one dog from the Waldo. Additional displays feature the collections of memorabilia of Anthony Glaza and Oscar Marshall family. The Marshall family served both the Portage and Eagle Harbor Life Saving Stations..
Visiting The Eagle Harbor Lifesaving Station
Hours & Admission – The Life-Saving Museum will be open from 9 am to 6 PM daily from mid-June to early October.There is no admission fee for this museum but a donation is appreciated.
Location -The Life Saving Station is at the end of Marina Road, which cuts off of M26 about 1 mile east of the bathing beach in Eagle Harbor. It is on the opposite side of the harbor from the lighthouse, near the Eagle Harbor Marina. GPS: N 47 27.543 W-88 08.931, Decimal Degrees: 47.45905, -88.14885
Related Links -You may wish to explore the following sites for additional information about life saving stations and the wreck of the Waldo.
Association for Great Lakes Maritime History
The Eagle Harbor Life Saving Station
Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum – Whitefish Point Light Station
Marquette Maritime Museum
USCG Awards for the rescue of the crew of the Waldo
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