Herring King (?)
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By The Numbers
Lives Lost
Depth (ft)
Service History

The wooden fish tug Herring King had probably been locally built at either Bayfield, Wisconsin or La Pointe. The vessel was originally built as the Fish Hawk and in the winter of 1909/1910 cut into two pieces, lengthened several feet, and fitted with a gas powered engine from another local vessel the Superior.

In 1911, while underway, the Herring King sunk on Chequamegon Bay, Lake Superior caused by leaks. The vessel was later recovered and put back in service.

The gas powered tug, Herring King was a jack-of-all-trade. The primary job was to collect fish from the island camps and and at times, the Henry King would carry other cargoes such as lumber. The residents of Sand Island would also rely on the Herring King for groceries and mail from the mainland.

"The tug Herring King was in use as a freighter by the Boutin Company, making regular trips to the fishing stations at Sand island and bringing the product of the lake to the packing plant here." Bayfield County Press 12/03/1909.
Final Voyage

November 29, 1917. The Herring King was returning from the Moe Fishery on Sand Island (western most island of the Apostle Islands) and was headed for the Shaw landing, also on Sand Island. The gas powered engine backfired and ignited a fuel leak from a broken fuel line in the bilge. Fire spread instantaneously and the two men couldn't launch the lifeboat. The 65 foot steamer Goldfish was anchored close by and came to the rescue. The engineer Clarence Russell jumped into the lake and swam to the Goldfish and made it, but Captain Gordon tried and drowned. The Herring King burned to the waterline and sank. The vessel was worth $1,500 and the load of fish was valued at $1,000.

At a later date, the wreck of the Herring King was towed to the east side of Sand Island in hopes of later salvaging the engine and any worthwhile timers.

"In Sand island's East Bay the remains of the Herring King lay near shore. After she burned and sank the hull was towed to the present location and salvaged, so there isn't much of the old fishing boat left." The "Unholy" Apostles Tales of Chequamegon Shipwrecks James M. Keller

"Most visitors arrive at the National Park Service's East Bay dock (on Sand Island), and the majority stroll unknowingly right past a reminder of one of the island's strangest stories. Mere yards from the dock, tucked into the woods, is a tumbled down shack made from the hull of a boat...One practical island family put the remains (of the charred Herring King) to use. Turning the hull upside down, they built walls beneath it and made the wreck into a cabin. The structure stood for many years, long after it's owners departed the island. Today the walls have collapsed..." Lake Superior Magazine.
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