Shipwreck of the Linda E. among those in new exhibit

Port Exploreum’s Murmurs from the Deep set to open later this month

The fishing tub Linda E., pictured steaming into the Port Washington harbor after tending nets on a winter day, disappeared with her three-man crew while fishing in December 1998. An investigation concluded the tug was run over by a freighter. The Linda E. is one of the wrecks that will be featured in the new "Murmurs from the Deep" exhibit at the Port Exploreum. Press file photo
Ozaukee Press staff

Shipwrecks will again be the focus of the Port Exploreum beginning this month.

The downtown Port Washington museum will close the afternoon of Friday, Feb. 8, to bring in its new exhibit, Murmurs from the Deep, which will look at five shipwrecks in the area as well as the 1998 sinking of the Linda E., the last fishing tug to operate out of Port Washington.

The exhibit will also include a look at the life of Port native Roger Erdmann, a Coast Guard commander with a storied career. Erdmann was on a ship that was part of the invasion forces that landed tanks on Okinawa and Marines on Guam. 

After the war, he served on search and rescue ships in the North Atlantic and took part in what was listed as one of the 10 most significant rescues in Coast Guard history after two tankers split in two during a storm off Cape Cod.

Erdmann also helped rescue the captain and crew of the SS Andrea Doria when the ocean liner, which had more than 1,700 people on board, began to sink off the Massachusetts coast in 1956. He received the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic for his part in the rescue.

“It’s a Port Washington hero story,” Port Washington Historical Society President Bill Moren said. “It’s a great story of a Port native and his exploits.”

The new exhibit, which is expected to open the week of Feb. 17, will replace “Not A World Apart: How We Lived,” a year-long exhibit that looked at the Ozaukee County poorhouses and the potter’s field in Port’s Union Cemetery.

Moren said the new exhibit, which will run through late summer, fits with the Exploreum’s maritime focus and its emphasis on area history.

“We’re all about inspirational discovery and connecting the past to the future,” he said. “We like to tell the stories of the people who live here and were from here. Then you’ve got a focus on the importance of shipping and commerce on the Great Lakes and how it shaped this area.”

The five shipwrecks to be explored in the exhibit on the first floor of the Exploreum are the Northerner, Mahoning, Niagara, Island City and J.M. Allmendinger.

According to the Wisconsin Historical Society:

The Northerner, built in 1851, sank in 1868 near Port Washington. The schooner was loading wood north of Port and, after getting into the water, was found to be leaking badly. Even after removing her load in Port, she continued to fill with water and capsized off Port Ulao in the Town of Grafton.

The Mahoning, built in 1848, was a brig that sank in 1864 while being towed from Sheboygan to Milwaukee for repairs. Two men died.

The Niagara — the subject of a display on the east end of Main Street — was built in 1845. The steamer caught fire and sank on Sept. 24, 1856, just south of Belgium. Sixty people died, but many of the passengers and crew members survived, including Captain F.S. Miller, by jumping overboard, using lifeboats or being rescued by other vessels.

The Island City, a schooner built in 1859, sank near Mequon in 1894 while traveling from Ludington, Mich., to Milwaukee. The boat was taking on water and the three-man crew prepared to abandon the ship when the captain and lifeboat were swept into the lake. The two men on board died but the captain managed to climb into the lifeboat and was washed ashore.

The steam barge J.M. Allmendinger, built in 1883, was blown off course while heading from Milwaukee to Sturgeon Bay and ran aground near Mequon on Nov. 26, 1895.

An exhibit about the Linda E. will be on the second floor of the Exploreum. The tug disappeared on Dec. 11, 1998, with three men on board.

After two days, the search for survivors was suspended, but it wasn’t until June 18, 2000, that the remains of the Linda E. were found by the U.S. Navy minesweeper Defender southeast of Port Washington.

The Coast Guard found substantial evidence that the tugboat had been run over by the tug Michigan and barge Great Lakes.


Click Here to Send a Letter to the Editor

Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


User login