History’s Gem of the Month – Article from the March 4, 1905 Grand Marais Herald
A couple of years ago I loaned a copy of The Grand Marais Herald newspaper that I have in the museum's archive to historian and writer, James L. Carter. He now lives in Marquette, but he grew up in Grand Marais. This copy was given to him by Ray Barney. When Jim was in high school, he traded the copy to museum founder, Axel Niemi, in exchange for an agate ring – which he still has. Jim's research has shown that there are only about a half dozen copies of the Herald still in existence. Jim has five copies and the Gitche Gumee has one. He doesn't think any others exist. If this is NOT TRUE, please let me know so I can let Jim know. He borrowed my copy so he could microfilm it. He shares microfilm copies with several libraries, including the Library of Michigan, located in Lansing.
The Herald was founded in Grand Marais in the 1890s. It was moved to Munising in 1910 where it was renamed The Munising News. The Herald files were kept there, but were destroyed in a fire in the late 1930s.
Here is one of the articles on the front page of the newspaper. I will reprint other articles in future web page updates. Notice how the sentence structure used by this unnamed author is quite different than that used today in newspapers. There are a lot of very long sentences!
Billions of Tons
NOTE: The photo above was taken on March 9, 2009. This is the last time that we had a fairly good amount of ice on the big lake – but it still was not any where near the amount of ice that used to form in "the old days."
An accumulation of ice in Lake Superior of nearly 17,000,000,000 tons during an average winter, or enough ice to supply each inhabitant of the United States with 200 tons, is a condition that the mind of ordinary mortals can scarcely comprehend. According to the ice chart for Lake Superior and the data which Captain Frank Henrich of the Duluth hydrographic bureau has collected from all sources likely to be reliable, the figures representing a body of ice so immense is regarded by him as a conservative estimate of the big ice field during a winter of average length and average low temperature. Captain Henrich says:
"From data we find the maximum ice period on Lake Superior to take place on about March 1st to 10th of each year, and the area covered by ice at this time is fully 12,000 square miles and assuming eighteen inches (a very conservative figure) as the average thickness of the specific weight as 57.5 pounds each we have 14,427,000,000 tons of ice on the lake proper: The bays cover an area of about 1,500 square miles and we can safely from all reports, including the excellent figures for this factor given by the United States weather bureau, allow two feet for the average thickness of ice on the bays from which we obtain 2,404,500,000 tons representing a total on lake and bays of 16,831,500,000 tons, or very nearly four cubic miles; or 200 tons each for every inhabitant of the United States: piled up in a cube this mass would measure 9,388 feet in width, length and height. The water surface of Lake Superior including bays is also 31,500 square miles; the latter take up about 15,000 square miles of this are leaving 30,000 square miles of water surface for the lake proper. It is apparent from the foregoing that the ice on lake and bays covers an area fully one third the entire surface of the whole."
In order to obtain proper results and a fair comprehension of the mechanical forces at work in creating and destroying this large amount of ice in a very short time we have to take into consideration the volume of Lake Superior which is easily found by multiplying the area by average depth from the charts of about 700 feet. By taking the whole area of 31,500 square miles we obtain 4,176 cubic miles, and with the area of the lake proper we have 3,977 therefore 4,000 cubic miles is a fair estimate of the volume. It is now plainly apparent that however large the amount of ice on Lake Superior, or how its gigantic proportions may appeal to our imagination, when we compare these four cubic miles of ice with the volume of the lake, they shrink into insignificance, can be considered as a mere trifle and it does not matter in the final calculation and has no practical bearing on the results, if we add or subtract them from the volume of this great inland sea.
The time consumed in forming and melting the amount of ice as given above differs considerably in the lake and bays. The ice in the latter commences to form from November 15 to December 1st of each year. And by the 20th of this month is always of sufficient thickness to stop the movement of ships, except proper ice breakers. This ice continues to gain in bulk, sometimes attaining a thickness of over three feet, but owing to the rise in temperature and the action of the sun in March, its landlocked condition and the shallowness of the water soon gives signs of weakness and generally disappears in the first days of each spring. This ice mainly regulates the opening and closing of navigation and it is destroyed in the bays only a small part of it occasionally finding its way out of the lake.
The ice forming on Lake Superior does not begin to offer serious obstruction to navigation in an average winter until the month of February, but when once the water near the coasts has been sufficiently cooled to permit its formation, the process advances fast and in one night a whole area, as far as the eye can see, which the day before was clear of ice may be covered with the same. During the latter part of January, ice frequently forms on the lake, but is destroyed as soon as made by wind and waves. The maximum accumulation of ice takes place in the first days of March and all ice disappears during April. From the foregoing it is apparent that the ice on Lake Superior does not control the closing of navigation for mostly throughout the month of January the lake is no more obstructed by ice than in July and therefore navigable, but the ports are closed owing to the ice in the bays. In other words the ice on Lake Superior forms in about 25 days and is destroyed in about the same period.
It is not of much interest to follow the particulars of the cooling and refreezing process of water while the same is converted into ice, but the melting is more important inasmuch as the latter and the disappearance of ice on Lake Superior is a partial factor connected with the opening of navigation. It is not difficult to demonstrate that Lake Superior with its volume of 4,000 cubic miles of water is capable with latent heat for fuel which latter is given at about 39 degrees F., even to calling to its assistance other agents as sun, wind, and rain of melting the four cubic miles of ice in existence and many times more.
Lake Superior successfully resists the low temperatures prevailing from November to February, and then reluctantly yields the material for the formation of ice, which reaches a maximum in twenty to twenty-five days and destroys the same, as soon as the temperature rises in March and April in about the same number of days.
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Gitche Gumee Museum.
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Grand Marais, Michigan 49839