May 9, 1901: The wreck of the Bon Voyage

On this day in 1901, the White Line transportation company’s steamer Bon Voyage did not have a very bon voyage. The steamer left Duluth heading for Michigan’s copper country but never made it to Houghton—and neither did five of her passengers. Six miles outside the Portage Ship Canal (aka the Portage Waterway or Keweena Waterway), the vessel caught fire and headed for Red Ridge, the nearest community on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. A woman described as the “grandmother of the Altman family” jumped into Lake Superior along with her daughter and three granddaughters. All but the youngest child died. An unknown young man also met the same fate. All other passengers were rescued. The Bon Voyage was built in 1891 at Sugatuck, Michigan, measured 153 feet long, and could take on a load of 500 tons. The vessel was a total loss and later removed by Duluth steamship company Clow & Nicholson and scrapped in the Zenith City. Clow & Nicholson operated excursion boats along the St. Louis River between downtown Duluth and Fond du Lac, which you can read about here.

The Bon Voyage. (Image: Great Lakes Vessel Index)