While there are tales of numerous ghost ships that sail the Great Lakes, there seems to be only one that has earned the title “The Flying Dutchman of Lake Superior”.

Why the term 'flying dutchman'? It comes from the late 1700s and is described as “a legendary ghost ship which was said to never be able to make port, doomed to sail the oceans forever”. The original ship that was lost at sea was a cargo ship and indeed named the 'Flying Dutchman' back in the 1600s-1700s. The legend says it arrived at the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa after battling bad weather. Unfortunately, there wasn't anyone available to help direct the ship into the harbor; the ship was lost and presumed wrecked and sunk. From that point on, the ghostly vision of the Flying Dutchman would be seen whenever there was bad weather.

As for the “Flying Dutchman of the Great Lakes”, that title goes to a cargo freighter, the S.S. Bannockburn. In 1902, the ship set out with its load of cargo. As it sailed out, the ship was seen for the last time by one of the crew members on another ship. Later that night, a bad winter storm hit, which has been blamed for the disappearance of the Bannockburn. The ship was never to be seen again.

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Since 1902, there have been no wreck fragments or bodies found. The only things that washed up on the shore of Lake Superior were an S.S. Bannockburn life preserver and an oar. There are no records of any distress calls or signals that were made by the captain or crew.

It only took a year for the legend to grow and the ship to be referred to as  “The Flying Dutchman of the Great Lakes”. The people who claim to have seen the ghost ship say it appears through the mist on Lake Superior and is an omen of bad weather and danger ahead.

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