Great Lakes Storm of 1913

November 1913 storm at the Great Lakes of North America

The following quotations are regarding the Great Lakes Storm of 1913, a blizzard with hurricane-force winds that devastated the Great Lakes basin in the United States Midwest and the Canadian province of Ontario from November 7 to November 10, 1913. It was the deadliest and most destructive natural disaster to ever hit the lakes.


  • I knew it was storming before I was told. The rooms, the corridors, everywhere within this building vibrates with the power of the storm outside. The storm waves, like sound waves or the waves of the wireless, will not be denied by stone walls and plate glass windows.
    • Helen Keller, trapped in a hotel during the Cleveland blizzard, after having completed a public lecture[1]
  • Dear wife and Children. We were left up here in Lake Michigan by McKinnon, captain James H. Martin tug, at anchor. He went away and never said goodbye or anything to us. Lost one man yesterday. We have been out in storm forty hours. Goodbye dear ones, I might see you in Heaven. Pray for me. / Chris K. / P.S. I felt so bad I had another man write for me. Goodbye forever.
    • A message found in a bottle 11 days after Plymouth disappeared, dictated by Chris Keenan, federal marshal in charge of the barge[2]
  • No lake master can recall in all his experience a storm of such unprecedented violence with such rapid changes in the direction of the wind and its gusts of such fearful speed... It was unusual and unprecedented and it may be centuries before such a combination of forces may be experienced again.
    • An excerpt from Lake Carriers' Association report, 1913[3]
  • Erie, and Ontario, and Huron, and Superior, and Michigan — possess an ocean-like expansiveness, with many of the ocean's noblest traits... they are swept by Borean and dismasting blasts as direful as any that lash the salted wave; they know what shipwrecks are, for out of sight of land, however inland, they have drowned full many a midnight ship with all its shrieking crew.
The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee
Superior, they said, never gives up her dead
When the gales of November come early.


  1. Brown, 2002, p 168.
  2. Brown, 2002, p 191.
  3. Brown, 2002, p 243.
  • Brown, David G. (2002). White Hurricane: A Great Lakes November Gale and America's Deadliest Maritime Disaster. International Marine / McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-07-138037-X.

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