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Today in 1958, the Carl D. Bradley sank


Thirty-three men lost their lives when the freighter Carl D. Bradley broke in two during a terrible storm on Lake Michigan.

Elizabeth Kowalski's brother, Bernard Schefke, died that day.   

"A girlfriend called me on the phone and told me that one of our boats had gone down,” she recalls. “She had a husband who sailed, too.  And she said, ‘don't worry, it's not our boat, it's the Bradley.’ And I said, ‘Oh my God, my brother's on that boat!’”

Only two men survived the storm.  Out of the 33 who perished, 26 were from the small town of Rogers City. 

"The day after they found the bodies, the town was just numb,” says Elizabeth. “Just on my street, one woman lost her husband, and another woman lost her son, and a woman down the street lost her husband.”

Elizabeth's husband, Robert Kowalski, was out on the lake on a different ship when the Bradley sunk. He knew many of those who died, but did not give up sailing.

"You don't have much choice in this town," he says. "You've got to stay where the work is. At the time, we had nine boats sailing out of here."

The Kowalskis wish more people remembered the Bradley and the wreck that took more lives than the Edmund Fitzgerald.

"We did have a song written by someone about the Bradley,” says Elizabeth. “But you never hear it. You never hear it.”

In 2007, divers recovered the bell from the ship. A bell tolling service at the Great Lakes Lore Maritime Museum in Rogers City will honor the crew this Saturday at 2 pm.