I'm back again, and when I did my post last month about the United States Life-Saving Service, I didn't know how many people would be interested in the topic. I mean, the USLSS (abbreviation) isn't something you hear about too often. But I had such an overwhelming response--and so much more information to share--that I wanted to do another post.
For a brief review before we delve back in, the United States Life-Saving Service ran from 1848 until 1915 for the purpose of rescuing sailors and passengers stranded on wrecked vessels. Modern technology and conveniences like radios and helicopters and speed boats that are used by the current Coast Guard were not available in the late nineteenth century, so the Life-Savers relied on special equipment, rigorous training, and manual labor to preform their duties. Visit last month's post for a more in depth introduction to the United States Life-Saving Service.
About the Stations:
When it was first created, the United States Life-Saving Service established stations on the Atlantic Ocean in places with a high incidence of ship wrecks, mainly from Massachusetts in the north to New Jersey in the south.
But even though the USLSS was started in 1848, it was vastly ignored and underfunded until after the Civil War. Actually it was ignored until 1870, when strong Atlantic storms wrecked many vessels and hundreds of lives were lost. Newspapers then started calling for better equipped life-saving stations. Take a look at this illustration by the cartoonist Thomas Nast.
|Caption: Death on Economy--"I suppose I must spend a little on life-saving service, life-boat stations, life-boats, surf-boats, etc.; but it |
is too bad to be obliged to waste so much money".
By the end of the 1870's, stations had been established not just in New England, but on the southern coast of the Atlantic, down into the Carolinas, Georgia, and even Florida. Stations were also established on the Great Lakes, which was at the zenith of it's shipping days.
The number of life-savers employed by each station varied according to local needs, but most stations had 6 surfmen and a keeper. Here's some pictures of historic Life-Saving Stations and their crews.
A mother of two young boys, Naomi Rawlings spends her days picking up, cleaning, playing and, of course, writing. Her husband pastors a small church in Michigan’s rugged Upper Peninsula, where her family shares its ten wooded acres with black bears, wolves, coyotes, deer and bald eagles. Naomi and her family live only three miles from Lake Superior, where the scenery is beautiful and they average 200 inches of snow per winter, and she is looking forward to the release of her next book, in January 2014. For more information about Naomi, please visit her website at www.NaomiRawlings.com.
Wow! Can't wait for next month's post! This is all very fascinating, Naomi, thanks for sharing!ReplyDelete
Thanks for another interesting post, Naomi!ReplyDelete
Great research and fascinating history! Thanks, Naomi.ReplyDelete
Glad everyone is enjoying the posts.ReplyDelete
Loved seeing the pictures of the stations - especially the Michigan one! :)ReplyDelete
The Michigan one is my favorite too, but I'm a little biased since I live here. This particular station was located on Lake Superior, though it's no longer active. A single Coast Guard station in Marquette covers most of Michigan's Lake Superior shoreline these days.Delete
I'm biased, too! I live in the mid-Michigan area. My brother lives up in the U.P. and pastors there (I read your "About" page and saw that's where you are, too!). And my parents are in the northern tip of the lower peninsula. So, yeah, I'm biased about Michigan! It's my birthplace and home state.Delete
Oh how fun. Where's your brother at up here? (If you don't want to say on the blog, you can use the contact form on my website to email me.) Go Michigan! (Um, the state, not necessarily the college) :-)Delete
I sent you a message using your contact form. :) I'm with you - Go Michigan! (and I don't get involved in college sports - it's about as bad as politics! lol My kids wear hand-me-down sweatshirts and jackets from both schools!) :DDelete
I love reading about this. What great research! I'm partial to the Michigan one also. ;)ReplyDelete
I'm a sucker for the Great Lakes shipwrecks. I have a bookshelf full of books on the subject. Thanks for such an interesting post!
Susan, have you done the shipwreck tour out of Munising? My family did it last summer, and it was really cool. Actually that little trip is what got me fascinated about the life savers (and ship wrecks). But it sounds as though you know much more about the actual wrecks than I do. I did most of this research for a novel that's currently sitting on my computer. Hopefully one day it will get published and Great Lakes ship lovers can read it. :-)Delete
No, we haven't done the tour yet but it is on our list to do! There is a poster hanging in the Big Sable Point Lighthouse at Ludington that shows every shipwreck in the great lakes. Wow, does that put it into perspective, there are a ton! The stories behind them and the lifesaving efforts to help the ships fascinates me. I'll be keeping my eye out for your novel! ;)Delete
Oh, the shipwreck tour is worth every cent you spend on it. Very cool. Lake Superior is one of the best places in the world to view/dive shipwrecks because the water is so cold it preserves the wood. If you ever make it to the tour, you'll get to see part of a French scow from the 1700s. Very cool. If you come farther west then Munising, give me a shout out and maybe we could meet for lunch. :-)Delete
My great, great, great grandfather was the first Keeper at Beaver Harbor Life Saving station in Michigan.ReplyDelete
Fascinating stories revolve around these heroes. Can't wait for next month.
Oh yes, he must have some very interesting stories indeed. Lots of room for the imagination in something like this as well. :-)Delete
Wow - how interesting...great job researching this...thanks for the post!ReplyDelete
I loved this post. We toured the station at Whitefish Point a few years ago - fascinating!
I grew up in Kalamazoo, and the UP is absolutely one of my favorite places in the world. It's the Lake, the pines, the fresh air... Except for the Lake, it reminds me of the Black Hills!
Yes, Whitefish Point has that station and the shipwreck museum with a lot of Edmond Fitzgerald artifacts. That might make a good future post. :-) And I've been to the Black Hills, very similar terrain to the western Upper Peninsula, except we have a really big lake to our north, and your hills are a little bigger. The other place I think is similar is the Adirondacks, but there again, those hills are bigger than ours.Delete
Hello Naomi, thanks for sharing ..interesting tidbits. Looking at the stations they remind me of the fire stations today. I like to see folks still interested in what happened in the past.ReplyDelete
What courageous men to brave the storm to rescue people from the sea. Thanks for sharing more of this amazing period of our history, Naomi.ReplyDelete
Thanks for stopping by, everybody. :-) I had a fun time sharing with you all yesterday!!!ReplyDelete
Thanks for sharing more information on the Lifesaving crew! We tend to take many things for-granted, not the least of which is that someone will be there to save us if we have a problem at sea. So grateful for these people and what they do.ReplyDelete