Four year old Ruth Baker remembered waking up on a late October morning in 1917 to find her family’s kitchen full of strange, bearded men. The night before the steamer SS Rising Sun had grounded off nearby Pyramid Point when its Captain lost his bearings in a Lake Michigan snow squall. The 133-foot Rising Sun, launched in 1884, was owned by a religious sect, the House of David. It was carrying a load of farmers and farm produce south.
The shipwrecked crew and passengers either swam through rough and icy waters to reach shore or were rescued by the crew of the US Coast Guard Station at Sleeping Bear Point, the nearest mainland life-saving station. They then found shelter with farmers in the nearby community of Port Oneida. The next morning, an elderly man who had slept through the disaster was spied wandering the deck and also rescued. The boat’s cargo of potatoes and turnips was said to have covered the beach for miles. Today the rusty remains of the Rising Sun’s boiler still lie just below the waves of Lake Michigan and can be seen from atop Pyramid Point, now within Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
Once attached to the pilot house of the SS Rising Sun, the oversize letters on this name board identified the vessel from a distance. This name board, itself, tells a story of utility typical of Great Lakes shipping artifacts. On the reverse side is carved the boat’s former name Minnie M. Underneath the silver and gold applied wooden letters seen here are the remnants of painted letters spelling ”Rising Sun.”