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The Bannockburn


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BaronIveagh's picture
BaronIveagh
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In the days before the Edmund Fitzgerald, the Bannockburn was one of the most famous ships to mysteriously vanish on the Great Lakes.  She's one of the more commonly sighted ghost ships of the lakes, often seen struggling through the November storms, a victim of the Witch of November. 

The Bannockburn was a 245-foot, all-steel steamer, built in England in 1893 in the shipyard of Sir R. Dixon and Co., which was recognized as one of the best shipyards in the British Isles at that time. Rated A-1 by Llyod's of London, the ship, along with several sisters, made the transatlantic crossing, and went to work for the Montreal Transportation Company.

The ship had already garnered a reputation for foul luck before Captain George Woods took command.

"Kingston, Ont., April 27. -- The english built steamer BANNOCKBURN, bound to this port from Toledo with 60,000 bushels of corn, ran on the rocks near Snake Island Light this morning, while goind at full speed. The steamer was badly wrecked. It was floated after 30,000 bushels of the cargo had been lighted. Nearly all of it is damaged."  Milwaukee Evening Wisconsin, Tuesday, April 28, 1897

"St. Catharines, Ont., Oct. 15. - The steamer BANNOCKBURN, Capt. John Irving, grain laden, Chicago for Kingston, struck the wing wall of Lock No. 17, Welland Canal, this morning and sprang a leak. She now rests on the bottom below Lock 11 with nine feet of water in her hold. Navigation will not be interrupted." Buffalo Evening News, Friday, October 15, 1897

On Nov 20, 1902 she left Thunder Bay with a load of grain bound for Midland, Ontario. 

Late in the afternoon of Nov. 21, the upbound steamer Algonquin noted in its log that they had passed the Bannockburn about 50 miles southeast of Passage Island and northeast of Keweenaw point. Capt. James McMaugh of the Algonquin noted that the Bannockburn was 'making a good sea', meaing that she was making good speed despite the weather. 

"Chicago, Nov. 29. - A special to the Record-Herald from Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., says: The steamer BANNOCKBURN with her crew of twenty men is given up for lost by local marine men. The report received last night that she was ashore near Michipicoten seems to be without foundation. The belief that the steamer has met with disaster is strengthened by the fact that the steamer ROCKFELLER, which arrived here today, reported passing through wreckage off Standard Rock. This is supposed to be from the missing boat. The wrecking tugs BOYNTON and FAVORITE have made a search along the north shore of Lake Superior without finding any trace of the Canadian steamer. The accepted theory is that the BANNOCKBURN foundered in mid lake and went down with all on board."  - Buffalo Evening News, November 30, 1902

"The first authentic evidence bearing on the fate of the steamer BANNOCKBURN which sailed from Fort William over a month ago and never seen again, came to light on Friday when the Captain of the Grand Marais Lifesaving Station found a life preserver from the missing boat on the beach." - Port Huron Daily Times, Saturday, December 13, 1902

Normally, in a shipwreck, this is the end of the story...

Immediatly after the dissappearance, relatives of the crew recived telegrams telling them not to worrry despite rumors of the ships loss.

Starting in November, 1903, the first report of the Bannockburn, coated with ice, near Caribou Island is reported by a passing steamer. 

Sightings reached such a number in such a short time that Curwood, in his Great Lakes writes, in 1909: "And now, by certain superstitious sailors, the Bannockburn is supposed to be the Flying Dutchman of the Inland Seas and there are those who will tell you in all earnestness that on icy nights, when the heaven above and the sea below were joined in one black pall, they have descried the missing Bannockburn—a ghostly apparition of ice, scudding through the gloom.

The most recent (resonable belivable) reported sighting of the Bannockburn was in 2001, supposedly reported to the head of one of the wrecks organisations on the lakes by the sailors that saw it. 

Other myths surrounding the Bannockburn:

According to legend, one of the thing to wash ashore was a single, bloodstained, oar from the wreck.

Supposedly, on the day of the wreck, two of the children of the Bannockburn's engineer also died.

Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
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Re: The Bannockburn

I've not heard of the Bannockburn before Baron and certainly not of a ghost ship being seen this century.  If this is your account can I put it up in the main gazetteer?

BaronIveagh's picture
BaronIveagh
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Re: The Bannockburn

Yeah, go ahead, though it's mostly quotes from newspapers at the time.  The Greak Lakes are well known for thier ghost ships, given the rate of sinkings on them, particularly before the advent of modern weather forcasting (and even since, really).  The November storms used to be well known for claiming hundreds of victems at a time, and can rival a Catagory 3 Hurricane in power.    This makes things particularly rough as the lakes, being shallow, can get very rough, very fast.

As far as seen since 2000: Rumor has it the Chicora has been seen (or, more accurately, radared) since it's resting place was found in 2002.  It's unusual in that it's sightings are occasionally reported to the Coast Guard, as was the case in 1926. The Hamilton and Scourge have been seen off and on on Lake Ontario, but like the Griffon, it's hard to get someone to admit to having seen them, since it's bad luck, supposedly of the terminal variety.

Paragraph 7 is substantiually simlar to one on another site, but frankly, there are only so many was to describe co-ordinates. 

Summum Nec Metuam Diem Nec Optima

Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
User offline. Last seen 13 hours 17 min ago. Offline
Joined: 22 Jul 2008
Re: The Bannockburn

 Thanks Baron.  I'll have to try and get all the Great Lakes ghost ships up eventually.  I have one up at the moment, The Griffin:

http://www.mysteriousbritain.co.uk/hauntings/the-griffin.html

BaronIveagh's picture
BaronIveagh
User offline. Last seen 3 days 3 hours ago. Offline
Joined: 7 Nov 2008
Re: The Bannockburn

The problem with the Griffin is that no one really knows what it looked like.  It may seem odd, but as my great grandfather, who lived many a year as a lake fisherman pointed out, any ghost ship sails along with masts and they call it the Griffin when there's plenty of ships with sails at the bottom of the lake...

Summum Nec Metuam Diem Nec Optima

Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
User offline. Last seen 13 hours 17 min ago. Offline
Joined: 22 Jul 2008
Re: The Bannockburn

 I cannot agrue with that wisdom Baron :)



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