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      The First Boat Finally Arrives: May 20, 1875

      March 2003 saw a nearly ice-covered Lake Superior after a very cold winter.

      After one of the coldest winters on record, the first boat of the season finally arrived in Marquette on May 20, 1875. To 19th century residents of the U.P., the arrival of the first boat in spring was a time of celebrationâ??winterâ??s isolation was finally over. This was not the latest first ship in port. In 1873, the first ship did not dock until May 21. That cold year there was still ice in the harbor well into June (Image 1 above). Legend has it that 4th of July picnic-goers cooled their drinks with left-over ice from the lake! Again, this is legend, it may not be fact. Those of us who live in the U.P. are a hardy lot and we may be tempted at times to stretch the truth just a bit.

      While we experienced lots of late-season snow and cold this year, the ice cover on Lake Superior was still below average. That is because of the mild first half the winter season. The winters that produce a lot of ice start out cold (2002-03 and 2008-09 are two of the most recent winters that come to mind; these winters, especially 02-03 had a stretch of cold weather up front.). Inland lakes kept their ice cover unusually late this year. Teal Lake between Negaunee and Ishpeming, for instance, did not lose its ice until May 8. Some of the lakes in the Copper Country kept their ice even longer. To the north of Lake Superior, Lake Nipigon had ice until at least May 16. Lately, itâ??s been cloudy up there, so its uncertain as to when the ice actually leftâ??Iâ??m pretty sure itâ??s gone by now.