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The Hesper was lost when it was caught in a late spring snow storm in 1905. The 60-mile-an-hour northeaster drove it well off its intended course and hurled the vessel on a reef which now marks the southwest edge of Silver Bay Harbor. The Hesper was lifted over the reef by a giant wave, after enduring a pounding for some time, only to founder and break up in 42 feet of water. The 15-man crew, along with Captain E.H. Heaton, remained aboard as long as there was any hope of saving their vessel. They launched two lifeboats and pulled away moments before it broke up.
Julius F. Wolff in Lake Superior Shipwrecks, 1990, reports the following testimony from a fisherman who witnessed the disaster:
Before the hull slid off into the deep water her cabins and spars were washed off and the stack had also fallen. The deck came off after the boat went down and it is plain that she is badly broken up forward for her collision bulkhead came ashore. The steamer's steel tow line is holding the fantail deck which floats on the surface and another section of the deck is held by the shrouds. Parts of the wrecked vessel are distributed along the coast for a distance of 5 miles.The Duluth Evening Herald of May 5, 1905 described the abandonment and sinking of the Hesper:
The boat went ashore shortly before daylight on the same reef upon which the Tampa foundered twelve years ago. The captain and members of the crew, sixteen in number, got ashore in lifeboats which they were able to launch on the "lee" side of the vessel, but they lost all their effects. The sea was so heavy that by noon the vessel was in pieces. The accident was due to the loss of her bearings, the vessel drifting out of her course in the heavy sea and wind. She was running light, coming up for a cargo of ore and was due in Duluth yesterday morning at 9 o'clock.After reaching shore, Captain Heaton wired that the crew had reached shore safely but the steamer was so badly pounded that it became a total wreck. At the time of its loss, the steamer was managed by Hutchinson & Company and was insured for $50,000. However, another reference states that it was valued at $80,000 at the time of its loss.
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