Today, guest blogger Christian Anschuetz from Modern Explorers tells the story of how his group of thrill-seeking adventurers came across a shipwreck while on an off-roading adventure on Drummond Island.
With everything that progress has brought to our modern world, it’s refreshing to know that there are still places on the planet that remain pristine. Perhaps surprisingly, Michigan brims with more places like this than many expect, and our group of would-be adventurers, true modern explorers, seek and discover these hidden gems.
Our crew of ten men and women has made it their mission to find these often wild and remote places in the hopes of inspiring others to do the same. From the northern shores of the Upper Peninsula’s Keweenaw, to the great National Huron and Manistee Forests, they have visited ancient copper mines, followed in the footsteps of Au Sable lumbermen, camped in the ruins of abandoned ghost towns, and most recently, visited the historic Drummond Island.
Here’s the story of how we discovered a well-known, but rarely visited shipwreck, on our latest adventure.
A summer squall rages across Lake Huron. Strong winds whip the air and the surf into a frenzy, punishing all in its path. Today’s victim would be a sturdy steamer that was once the largest vessel to travel the Great Lakes. But neither her size nor her steadfast crew could protect her from the wrath of Mother Nature, which forced the Agnes W aground. It was July 3rd, 1918 when the Agnes W crashed into the rocky shoreline and sank. Nearly a century later, my team and I find ourselves staring at her well-preserved wreckage as we look to the south from Traverse Point on Drummond Island.
Locating the Agnes W on a map was a simple task, but making our way to the wreckage was another matter altogether. Drummond Island is a beautiful, rugged place, and the path to the sunken ship was long, narrow, and harrowing. While the off-road vehicles we took down the trail were up to the task, the drivers were tested after just a mile of navigating the sand, mud and stone. We shared a deep sense of accomplishment as we exited our vehicles at the shoreline and began the hike toward where the Agnes W broke upon the rocks.
As we walked the last quarter mile to Traverse Point, our curiosity grew with every step: What would we find? Two hundred yards from our destination our group made its first discovery: a massive beam pierced with wrought iron stakes lay upon the shore. This large piece of debris had to belong to the Agnes W, so with sharpened eyes we moved forward, finding more and more of the wrecked ship along the way. By the time we arrived at the tip of Traverse Point, we were surrounded by artifacts. Less than 40 yards away we could see the well-preserved hulk of the steamer peeking through the surface of the water. Despite the warm air and bright sun, a cool and eerie feeling descended on our group.
Individually and collectively, we wondered about the fate of the crew that night. What was their experience of the violent collision between ship and land? How many perished, how many survived? Some answers to our questions reside in the history books. Many others have been lost to time. What the wreckage made clear, however, was that even this great ship was no match for the giant rocks that are the foundation of Drummond Island. After discussing the little-known history of the Agnes W, we took our last photos and began the hike back to our vehicles.
As with most things on Drummond Island the adventure isn’t complete until you are safely back to your starting point. This time we tackled the trail off the beach knowing that the surviving crew of the Agnes W likely forged a similar path as they left that shore cold, wet and scared. Our team departed under far better circumstances, and with a sense of satisfaction that we had found what we were looking for.
During the following days we navigated even rougher terrain as our team explored and discovered towering cliffs, amazing rock formations, old ruins and intriguing Chippewa sites the locals call “places of power”. For Drummond is a big island with an even larger history. A land that calls out to would-be adventurers to rediscover her secrets. A worthy destination for all, and one that deserves the title Pure Michigan.
Have you had the opportunity to explore Drummond Island? Tell us about your experience!
Check out the Modern Explorers in action and see the wreck of the Agnes W for yourself in the video below.
Christian Anschuetz embraces the duality of modern life, and freely moves from being a technologist at work, and an avid outdoorsman and adventurer for play. As an IT executive and entrepreneur, he happily takes the lead of the Modern Explorers crew. As a former Marine, the path he leads the team is often fraught with obstacles, dirt, and adventure. You can reach Christian at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about the Modern Explorers follow them on Facebook or check out their YouTube Channel.