SS Benjamin Noble
The SS Benjamin Noble was a lake freighter that operated on the Great Lakes. Built in 1909 by the Detroit Shipbuilding Company, she was 239 feet (73 m) in length and had a beam of 40 feet (12 m). She was built as a "canaller," a vessel designed for use in what were then the dimensions of the Welland Canal, but was converted by her owners for services in the open Great Lakes. Heavily laden and top-heavy with a cargo of railroad rails, she sank in a Lake Superior storm near Knife River, Minnesota, in April 1914 with the loss of all hands.
The Benjamin Noble prior to her sinking
|Operator:||Capitol Transportation Company|
|Builder:||Detroit Shipbuilding Company|
|Launched:||April 28, 1909|
|Out of service:||1914|
|Identification:||U.S Registry #206240|
|Fate:||Foundered April 29, 1914 off Knife River, Lake Superior|
|Displacement:||1,481 long tons (1,505 t)|
|Length:||239 ft (73 m)|
|Beam:||40 ft (12 m)|
|Height:||18 ft (5.5 m)|
|Propulsion:||Triple expansion steam engine|
BENJAMIN NOBLE (Shipwreck)
|Location||Lake Superior near Knife River|
|Nearest city||Duluth, Minnesota|
|Architect||Detroit Shipbuilding Company|
|NRHP reference #||07000984|
|Added to NRHP||2007|
Had she been able to make anchor in the sheltered port of Duluth, the Benjamin Noble would have been saved. However, at a key moment in the storm, entry to the harbor was unnavigable after the obsolescent south pier torch light blew out. Harbor laborer Stan Standen tried to reach the light to relight it, but was blown into the canal and lost. Of the estimated 16 to 18 to 20 crew members, only about the names of 11 are known. On April 29, 1914 it was reported several crewmembers' remains were found on a sand reef near Minnesota Reef.
After more than 90 years as a ghost ship, the hulk of the Benjamin Noble was rediscovered in the autumn of 2004. The wreck was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007 as NRHP site #07000984.
The Benjamin Noble was unique among Lake freighters because her stern cabins were elevated on a poop deck. Her bow cabins were also elevated on a forecastle deck. This also meant that she sat quite low in the water meaning that her spar deck often got wet. Maritime historian Dwight Boyer attributes the 1914 loss of the vessel to a combination of deliberate cargo overloading and the ship's unusual design. On her last voyage the low-riding vessel had very little freeboard and was vulnerable to swamping.
In the Autumn of 2004 a shipwreck research team consisting of Jerry Eliason, Kraig Smith, Ken Merryman and Randy Beebe were searching for the Robert Wallace when their side scan sonar picked up the outlines of a shipwreck. Randy Beebe described the event:
It was the last pass of the day, which was going to be the last day of the search season. We were just going to pull up the side-scan sonar and head in, and we noticed a target on the screen. So right away we headed over there and investigated it more with the side-scan sonar, and sure enough we had a shipwreck.
The team was expecting to see the Wallace, but the ship they found was made of steel. They were able to lower a camera into the cargo hold of the mystery ship. They saw railroad cars full of railroad rails, this confirmed that the wreck was that of the long lost Benjamin Noble.
|John Eisenhardt||Captain||from Milwaukee, Wisconsin|
|George R. Longley||Mate||from 1947 Whitney Avenue Niagara Falls, New York|
|John J. Cloonan||Steward||from Oswego, New York|
|Thomas Proud||Steward||from Oswego, New York|
|Alvin Conger/Coger||Chief Engineer||from Port Clinton, Ohio, member of MEBA 37, believed to have been engaged|
|Anthony Bolcoroski||Second Engineer||from Oak Harbor, Ohio, member of MEBA 37|
|Joel/Jed Conger/Coger||Oiler||from Port Clinton, Ohio, engaged to be married, brother of Alvin Conger|
|Frank Cougher||Oiler||from Port Clinton, Ohio,|
|William Goulett||Fireman||from Toledo, Ohio,|
|Alton Guntch||Fireman||from Toledo, Ohio,|
|Otto Guntsch||Fireman||from Toledo, Ohio,|
|9-6 other unidentified men||unknown||unknown|
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
- Boyer, Dwight (1968). Ghost Ships of the Great Lakes. New York: Dodd, Mead and Company. pp. 28–39.
- The Detroit Times April 30, 1914 p.2.
- The Detroit times., April 29, 1914, LAST EDITION, Image 1
- The Day Book April 30,1914 reports the "Benjamin Noble" had a 16 men crew Library of Congress Chronicling America accessed 4 December 2018
- Wood County reporter., May 07, 1914, Image 6
- GenDisasters Website
- Grand Forks daily herald and the evening times., April 29, 1914, Image 1
- "Mystery Ship Found". Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
- "Benjamin Noble (shipwreck)". National Park Service. Retrieved March 16, 2016.
- The Milwaukee Journal April 29, 1914 .pp.1-2 Obituary and picture of Captain Eisenhardt
- The Democratic Banner May 1, 1914 p.1 Mt Vernon Ohio