74 years ago today, on April 14, 1935, three fishermen headed out onto Lake Superior from their North Shore settlements, in small boats, to check their herring nets. Only one made it back home, though he took the long way home. Two of the fishermen were never seen again.
John Hansen left Little Marais. Carl Huby and Christ Tuinglem headed out from Thomasville, a little settlement near the present day Satellite's Cafe in Schroeder. This was before weather radio or blogs. They didn't know that a northwest wind would kick in, clear and cold and hard.
Here the newspapers pick up the account:
"Two Thomasville, MN fishermen today were believed to have drowned in frosty and windswept Lake Superior after a coastguard cutter last night halted a fruitless search along the south shore for the men cast adrift in their small boat two days ago.
"Carl Huby and Christ Tuinglem were the two who were carried out into the open water in their small craft as a swift northwest gale blew up while they were tending their nets.
"The cutter Crawford (similar boat pictured below) anchored off Rocky Island after picking up John Hansen of Little Marais, who was swept out into the lake while fishing.
"Coastguardsmen of the Crawford who were hampered in their search by the cold temperatures that coated the cutter with ice said they believed it impossible for the boat carrying Huby and Tuinglem to endure the pounding of the raging waters."
Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune, April 16, 1935
Sad story! Imagine blowing out to sea, the horizon of the North Shore getting slimmer and slimmer, the waves getting larger and larger, and your boat getting heavier and heavier with ice. The math just doesn't work. Hansen got lucky: he made it across to the South Shore, where men in a way bigger boat were looking for him. The newspaper doesn't say so, but he probably got a ride back to Little Marais on the highway. The final fate of Huby and Tuinglem can't be known for sure, but neither hypothermia in a raging sea or drowning sounds to me like a pleasant way to go.