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A weekly look at life on the Great Lakes, in 90 seconds or less, from IPR News.

Maritime Time: A daring dog rescue aboard the sinking Huronton

Photo: The Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society
Photo: The Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society

The sinking of a WWI-era steel bulk freighter tells the story of a daring dog rescue.

The 238-ton Huronton was heading up Lake Superior in the fall of 1923 when it was met with heavy fog and smoke from nearby forest fires.

Another freighter, the Cetus, was going the opposite direction. Both vessels were traveling too fast for the dangerous conditions. The two ships collided. The Cetus’ bow ripped a hole in the port side of the Huronton.

Huronton dog being rescued, artwork by Bob McGreevy. (Photo: The Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Museum.)
Huronton dog being rescued, artwork by Bob McGreevy. (Photo: The Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Museum.)

The ships were stuck together, but the captain of the Cetus kept the engines moving. This "plugged" the hole and allowed the crew of the Huronton to get aboard the Cetus, before the Huronton sank to the bottom of the lake.

However, the Huronton’s mascot, a bulldog, was still aboard the vessel. The Huronton’s first mate, Dick Simpell, jumped back on board.

Simpell ran to the flooding stern to untie the dog. He was able to save it before the Huronton sank to the bottom.

The ship lies in 800-feet of Lake Superior water. The crew of the R/V David Boyd was towing a sonar from the Great Lake Shipwreck Historical Society when it was discovered in October 2023.


Have a story you think should be heard on Maritime Time? Email Tyler Thompson at tyler.thompson@interlochen.org.

Tyler Thompson is the Morning Edition host and reporter at Interlochen Public Radio.