In 1914, for reasons that are still debated, Ralph Dorsey piloted the “Rescue” to the center of Glen Lake and chopped a hole in the bottom of the hull with an axe and let his beautiful steamboat sink. She was located by the Michigan State Police. Glen Lake is a lake located in Leelanau County in the U.S. state of Michigan, near Lake Michigan. Several villages and hamlets lie along or near its shore, including Burdickville, Glen Arbor, and Glen Haven.
“Ralph was a heavy drinker, and his passengers refused to ride with him any longer,” goes one legend. Ralph’s nephews, Jim and John Dorsey, who took a joyride on the lake during the 2003 community search, confirmed that their uncle liked to tip back the bottle, even in his latter years living in Frankfort after he brought his boating business here to an abrupt halt. “We were known to drink a little hard cider whenever the neighbors came for a visit,” recalled Jim.
“Nightmares of drowning children haunted Ralph, so he sank his boat before tragedy could strike,” is another theory, introduced by Taghon, the proprietor of the Empire Area Historical Museum. “Some say he had a premonition that something bad was going to happen.” According to Barb Siepker, who owns the Cottage Book Shop in Glen Arbor, Ralph had six brothers, one of whom disappeared while boating in northern Lake Superior.
“Ralph lost the boat in a card game, but didn’t want anyone else to ride off in his mahogany-lined craft,” suggested Dottie Lanham. “I heard they played a lot of cards in those days because of the idle time on their hands,” she added. “But these stories have probably been exaggerated as they were passed down through generations.”
“Business was bad, and the frustration of cruising around the lake, only to find no one on the docks waiting for him in need of a lift to Glen Arbor, finally got to Ralph,” is yet another explanation. Dr. Chuck Olsen, who initiated the 2003 search, recalls a story told to him by the late John Tobin, who claimed to be fishing where the Narrows Bridge is today when Dorsey paddled ashore in a rowboat, minutes after having chopped a hole in Rescue’s hull with an axe, muttering “If they won’t ride with me, they won’t ride with anyone else!”
Thanks to Ross Richardson for the submission of this article.
About Ross Richardson
Welcome to “Michigan Mysteries.com”, the website of Author and Shipwreck Hunter Ross Richardson. This website is dedicated to the missing persons, missing aircraft, missing maritime vessels and the unrecovered drowning victims of the Michigan Region. The Michigan Region includes the Upper and Lower Peninsulas, Islands, as well as the Great Lakes which are contiguous with Michigan’s mainland: Lake Erie, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan and Lake Superior.
Richardson is the author of two books, “The Search for the Westmoreland: Lake Michigan’s Treasure Shipwreck” and “Still Missing: Rethinking the D.B. Cooper Case and Other Mysterious Unsolved Disappearances.” He also speaks about Great Lakes maritime history at libraries and historical societies around the Great Lakes Region.
Richardson is a trained technical SCUBA diver and has been involved in the discovery, identification, and documentation of numerous Lake Michigan shipwrecks. He was a public safety diver for the Benzie Area Public Safety Dive Team and a Benzie Country Sheriff’s Department Special Deputy for many years.
He resides in Lake Ann, Michigan, with his wife, son and their retired racing greyhound, Claire.