The 1927 Wreck of the S.S. Kamloops: Isle Royale, Michigan
The steamship Kamloops sank in December 1927 off Isle Royale in Lake Superior. The ship was built in Durham, England in the early 1920s…but why the name 'Kamloops'? The ship was built smaller than usual (only 250 feet), to specifically fit through the locks of the Canadian-operated canals of the St. Lawrence River and lower Great Lakes. The name “Kamloops” came from the town of the same name in British Columbia, Canada.
Kamloops' main purpose was to transport cargo from Montreal, thru the Great Lakes, to Thunder Bay in Ontario.
In November 1927, the Kamloops set off with a good-sized load of goods including coiled wire, food, paper-making machinery, pipes, shoes, tar paper…..and quite a bit of Lifesavers candy.
She headed up Lake Huron, through Sault Ste. Marie, and prepared to take on Lake Superior. Not surprisingly, that time of year brought heavy gales and a big one rose up on December 5. The last time anyone reported on seeing the Kamloops, she was bound for the southeast shore of Isle Royale. She was almost encased in ice, thanks to the storms and freezing weather - and that was the last anyone ever saw the ship or any of its 22 men and women passengers and crew.
A search took place for ten days: December 12-22, but no trace was found. It wasn’t until May 1928 that fishermen found wreckage and the bodies of Kamloops crew members at Twelve O’Clock Point on Isle Royale. More bodies were found the following month.
One crew member, a stewardess named Alice Bettridge, knew she wasn’t going to survive and released a message in a bottle into Lake Superior. The bottle was found in the Agawa River a year later – December 1928 – by a trapper. She had survived the wreck, but ended up dying alone on Isle Royale. Her note said, “I am the last one left alive, freezing and starving to death on Isle Royale in Lake Superior. I just want mom and dad to know my fate."
Fifty years later, in 1977, the wreck of the Kamloops was finally discovered under 260 feet of water, lying on its side at the base of an underwater cliff. The site is now known as “Kamloops Point”. Photos are below.
The Wreck of the Kamloops, Isle Royale
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