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Paradise, Michigan: Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum

Features the bell from the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, and relics from other ships that also never made it. Outdoor photo-ops include an Edmund Fitzgerald memorial.

18335 N. Whitefish Point Rd, Paradise, MI
I-75 exit 352 (Newberry, Tahquamenon Falls). Follow Hwy 123 all the way to Paradise, then continue north on Whitefish Point Rd for 11 miles to the Whitefish Point Light Station.
Daily May-Oct. 10-6 (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Adults $13.
RA Rates:
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Visitor Tips and News About Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum

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Whitefish Point.

Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum

Totally worth the detour, but I feel like you go here because you know about it and want to see and read the history. There's a beach, so go out and enjoy the sand and view. Bring your bug spray and make sure it has Deet. Nothing else keeps the biting flies away.

[Christopher, 08/13/2023]

Bell from the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum

The Edmund Fitzgerald is the "star" of this museum (no doubt due to the Gordon Lightfoot song), but there are artifacts and information on lots of other shipwrecks in the Great Lakes as well, with a focus on Lake Superior. One large room has the ship's bell raised from the Fitzgerald, along with lots of other artifacts from many more wrecks. The descriptions of many of the shipwrecks indicates that many accidents happened just because two ships ran into each other in the dark and/or fog.

It cost us $4 more to climb the lighthouse, but that was a highlight. Great view from up there. There were some amusing docents providing their own "spin" on the various shipwrecks, etc.

The museum was very crowded the day we were there, which was surprising since it is 10 miles away from the nearest town (strangely named Paradise). The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is a pretty empty part of the country.

[Jim Jordan, 08/23/2015]
Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum

I thought it was a beautiful museum and a very fitting and respectful way to honor those who died in the shipwrecks. You can almost feel them. Very eerie.

[Nancy Kroes, 10/13/2012]
Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum

The director of the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum wants to build a memorial to the more than 30,000 people who've drowned in the shipwrecks that his museum commemorates. It makes us wonder why anyone would get in a boat up here, especially when attractions along the shoreline -- including The World's Largest Grandfather Clock (Kewaunee, WI), the Shrine Of The Snowshoe Priest (L'Anse, MI), and the Sandpaper Museum (Two Rivers, MN) -- are so easily accessible by car.

The museum itself is a vehicle for public enlightenment, since most Americans only know about one Great Lakes tragedy, the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, and only because Gordon Lightfoot wrote an inexplicably popular song about it in the 1970s. While we applaud any effort to remove Gordon Lightfoot as an arbiter of history, we should also point out that the star exhibit at this museum is the bell from that same Edmund Fitzgerald, dragged up from the bottom of Lake Superior in 1995.

We imagined that a museum with a name like this (and in a place so remote) would be ancient and dusty, maybe with a skeleton or two displayed in fish-eaten clothes. But the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum opened in 1986 and, according to its director, has no skeletons. It does have photos and artifacts from many different shipwrecks. Its most popular exhibits, aside from the bell, are a Fresnel lens from a lighthouse and a "to-spec" wooden lifesaving boat.

[ Team, 09/01/2005]
Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum

Concerning the ship's bell from the Edmund Fitzgerald: The bell was placed at the museum at the request of the families of the crew members. Originally the 'Fitz was safe from disturbance due to the depth at which it came to rest; the only visitors were accident investigators operating remotes from the surface. Then technological advances made it possible for weekend divers to actually get down to the wreck. The families became upset when divers started bringing up souvenirs -- the wreck is the grave of their loved ones. At the request of the families, Canada (it's in Canadian waters) made the site off limits. Still the divers came. So when a scientific group wanted to go down to the wreck to find out once and for all why it sank (still unknown), the families helped them obtain permission from Canada. The only conditions were that the expedition be widely publicized as the last authorized visit to the wreck and that the ship's bell be brought back up for display at the museum. The hope was that this would finally end the illegal dives. It seems to have worked. Not to be left out: The families had a replacement bell placed on the wreck identical to the original with the addition of the names of those that had died that November night.

BTW, if you don't like Gordon Lightfoot's song, I would recommend not being in the UP of MI on the anniversary of the sinking.

[Thomas M. Beaudry, 06/06/2004]

Nearby Offbeat Places

Town Named ParadiseTown Named Paradise, Paradise, MI - 11 mi.
Shoe TreeShoe Tree, Strongs, MI - 26 mi.
Bowling Ball TreeBowling Ball Tree, Hulbert, MI - 31 mi.
In the region:
Antlers Restaurant, Sault Ste. Marie, MI - 35 mi.

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